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Wonder Boys to Play for GAC Championship

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www.arkansastechsports.com will have live coverage. The loss ended Southwestern Oklahoma State's season with an overall record of 16-13. Jay Murphy scored a career-high 25 points and Mike Balogun notched 23 points to lead the Wonder Boys. Arkansas Tech's Branden Williams contributed 10 points and nine rebounds. Martell Collins paced the Bulldogs with 24 points and 10 rebounds. The Wonder Boys made 14 of their first 18 field goal tries to take control early. A 16-0 run over a span of 3:59 staked Arkansas Tech to a 35-18 advantage with 6:03 remaining in the first half. Nick Wayman bracketed the surge with a pair of buckets, making a 3-pointer to start it and recording a fast break slam dunk to cap it. Balogun scored seven points and Williams had four points during the spurt. The Wonder Boys followed their hot start by missing nine consecutive field goal tries. Southwestern Oklahoma State took advantage with 10 unanswered points and the margin was down to 35-28 when Arkansas Tech head coach Chad Kline called timeout with 2:43 to go in the period. The Wonder Boys ended their field goal drought on a D.J. Jethroe layup with 48 seconds left in the half. They went to the intermission leading 38-30. The Bulldogs stayed close for the first five minutes of the second half, but a 3-pointer by Balogun with 15:18 to go and a layup by Murphy at the 14:53 mark pushed Arkansas Tech's lead to 54-44. It was the beginning of a 14-2 run that gave the Wonder Boys a 63-46 edge with 12:03 remaining. They were able to keep the Bulldogs at bay, even when Southwestern Oklahoma State pulled within 74-68 with 1:30 left. Tech made 11-of-14 free throws over the final 1:25 to seal the deal. Arkansas Tech has an opportunity on Sunday to continue one of the most impressive active streaks in NCAA Division II men's basketball. The Wonder Boys are one of just seven NCAA Division II men's basketball programs to qualify for the NCAA Tournament each of the last six seasons. A win on Sunday would extend that streak to seven consecutive seasons. It would match the longest streak of national tournament berths in Arkansas Tech men's basketball history. Sam Hindsman coached the Wonder Boys to seven straight NAIA National Tournament berths from 1950-56.]]>