The East Central University men’s basketball team moved into first-place in the Great American Conference standings with an 82-74 win over Southern Arkansas at the Kerr Activities Center.
The Tigers (13-7, 10-4 GAC) saw four players in double digits in the scoring column, with senior Colby Carr leading the way with 20. Senior Chris Lee tallied 18 points and nine rebounds, while junior Brandon Lucas added 17 points and nine boards.
The first half started out as a low scoring affair, with both teams keeping close to each other on the scoreboard. With about 15 minutes left to play the score was tied at 10 when the Muleriders (9-11, 5-9 GAC) used a 6-0 run over the next two minutes to take the lead.
SAU expanded its lead to double-digits with just under 10 minutes left to play in the half and used a 7-0 run, until 8:31, to push the advantage to 14. The Muleriders kept the lead between 10-14 points until the final five minutes of the half. Over the next four minutes the Tigers used a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to three (34-37). However, SAU finished the final minutes with a 5-3 run for a 37-42 lead at the break.
ECU had a strong start to the second half, going on a 9-4 run in the first 3:30 to tie the game at 46. SAU scored the next four points, but with 15:31 left the Tigers started a 20-0 run over the next eight minutes to take a 66-50 lead.
ECU kept the advantage around 16 points for the next two minutes, before the Muleriders went on a 15-0 run of their own to cut the deficit to four (74-70), with 1:58 to play. That was as close as they would get, as the Tigers pushed through the final two minutes with an 8-4 run for the 82-74 win.
The game was close on the final box score, with the biggest advantage for ECU coming in the rebounding column. The Tigers out-rebounded SAU 44-33 and made the most of their 15-7 lead on the offensive glass by scoring 15 second-chance points to four by the Muleriders.
ECU will remain at home for a Saturday, Feb. 8 matchup with Arkansas-Monticello at 4 p.m. in the Kerr Activities Center.