Wonder Boys Down RiverHawks 72-64

Arkansas Tech head men’s basketball coach Doug Karleskint went into Monday night saying that he wanted 40 solid minutes from his Wonder Boys. What he received were 18 nearly flawless minutes, and that turned out to be enough.

The Wonder Boys (9-3) roared out to a 28-point lead late in the first half and then held on for a 72-64 victory over the Northeastern State University RiverHawks at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville on Monday night.

Arkansas Tech held the RiverHawks (5-7) without a field goal for more than 11 minutes while building a 29-7 lead with 6:38 to go in the first half.

The lead grew to 45-17 with 1:48 to go before halftime, but Northeastern State closed the half with a 7-0 spurt. It proved to be a sign of things to come.

Dominique Gaines scored 25 of his game-high 29 points for the RiverHawks after halftime, including a 3-pointer with 41 seconds left that cut Arkansas Tech’s lead to 70-62. It was the first time since the 13:08 mark of the first half that the Wonder Boys’ advantage dipped into single digits.

Tech did what it had to do from there to win the game — avoid turnovers and make free throws. Jeremy Dunbar went 2-for-2 at the line with 27.2 seconds remaining to stop a 10-2 Northeastern State run and give the Wonder Boys a 72-62 lead.

The RiverHawks got a layup from Ethan Anderson, but it came with 10 seconds left after a pair of misses and offensive rebounds. Time ran out on the Northeastern State comeback as Arkansas Tech won its final game before the start of conference play.

Johnie Davis scored a season-high 26 points for the Wonder Boys. He was 8-of-14 from the field and 8-of-10 from the free throw line.

Dunbar notched 15 points and Willie Sanders had 12 points for Arkansas Tech.

The Wonder Boys held a 25-13 edge in points off turnovers. NSU committed 20 turnovers; Arkansas Tech made just 11 turnovers.

In addition to Gaines’ 29 points, Antoine Branch had 17 points for the RiverHawks.

The Wonder Boys will face Henderson State at the Duke Wells Center in Arkadelphia on Saturday, Jan. 8. Tip-off for the Gulf South Conference opener for both teams is set for 4 p.m.

KWKK 100.9 FM will have the broadcast in the Arkansas River Valley. The broadcast will be streamed over the Internet at www.athletics.atu.edu.