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December 11, 2013

ECU men drop Arkansas Tech

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. —      In their first Great American Conference road trip of the 2013-14 season, the East Central University men’s basketball team earned two wins after claiming a 94-78 win over Arkansas Tech Saturday at the Tucker Center.

     The Tigers (4-4, 3-1 GAC) had four players record double-digit point totals, with junior Brandon Lucas leading ECU with 27 points and eight rebounds. Redshirt freshman A.J. Moutry added 18 points, senior Colby Carr 15 and junior Jefferson Ocoro 10.

     “We stepped up and made free throws when we needed them tonight,” said head coach Ja Havens. “I give Arkansas Tech credit for playing all the way through the game. I am also proud of my guys for continuing to improve.”

     The Wonder Boys (5-3, 1-1 GAC) opened the first stanza with an 8-0 run in the first four minutes. ATU was up 16-6, with 11:56 left to play, when ECU started to push the momentum of the game and used a 24-7 run until 2:45 remained in the half. The Tigers defense was strong during the span, holding the Wonder Boys without a field goal, and it gave ECU a 30-23 lead.

     The Tigers continued to push the tempo through the end of the first stanza, going into the locker room with a 38-28 lead. ECU’s momentum in the first half was sparked by Lucas, who tallied 16 points, including four three-pointers in the opening half.

     The Tigers built the lead out to 17 (54-37), with 14:13 left in the second half. The Wonder Boys were not done fighting and used a 5-0 run over a minute span to cut the deficit to 12 (56-44). However, ECU responded with a 5-0 run of its own over the next three minutes.

     The teams battled through the next six minutes of the game, with the Tigers holding on to a 19-15 point advantage. ECU then pulled ahead by 20 when Moutry hit his fourth triple of the game, with 3:40 remaining on the clock.

     ATU never quit fighting and, despite being forced to foul in the final minutes, the team used a 19-15 run to cut the deficit to 10 before falling 94-78.

     The Tigers had a strong overall day, shooting 45.1 (23-of-51) percent from the floor, 39.1 (9-of-23) from beyond the arc and 70.9 (39-of-55) from the charity stripe. ECU’s defense held ATU to 41.8 (23-of-55) percent overall, 21.7 (5-of-23) percent from three-point range and 61.4 (27-of-44) percent from the free-throw line.

     Free throws became the story in the second half, with both teams combining for a whopping 99 free throws in the game. ECU finished 39-of-55 from the stripe,    while Arkansas Tech went 27-of-44.

     Willie Rogers erupted for a game-high 30 points on 10-of-14 shooting to lead the Wonder Boys.

     The Tigers will next head to Rogers State for a non-conference game after having a week off for finals. ECU will face the Hillcats at 4 p.m. Saturday.

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