A last second shot by junior Marquis Walters leads to an East Central University men's basketball team 69-68 victory over Arkansas Tech on the road in Great American Conference action.
The Tigers (12-5, 6-3 GAC) were led by junior Deron Hill, who tallied career bests of 17 points and six rebounds and seven assists. Junior Aly Hudgins added 14 points and five boards, while junior Stirling Thomas garnered 14 points and redshirt sophomore Braxton Reeves added 12.
The opening stanza opened with low scoring and a tight battle in the first six minutes. With 14:10 left to play ECU made its first push of the half, going on a 9-2 run over the next three minutes to take a 17-10 advantage. The Wonder Boys (8-9, 4-5 GAC) fought back with a 6-0 run and then kept the deficit between three and seven points until just less than four minutes remained.
ATU used a 4-0 run over the next 1:30 to get within one, but the Tigers responded with a 10-2 run in the final two minutes of the half to take a 39-29 lead into the locker room.
The Wonder Boys came out of the locker room and used a 5-0 run to cut the lead to five (39-34), with 18:46 left on the clock. Both teams them went cold until two free throws by Hill broke the stalemate at 16:50.
ATU then turned up the intensity and went on a 12-3 run to take their first lead of the second half (47-48), with 10:17 left to play. Reeves hit a three for ECU to start a new battle for control over the next three minutes. That is when the Wonder Boys started another push, this time using an 8-2 run to take a 58-64 lead.
ECU pushed back with in two (62-64) over the next 40 seconds on a 4-0 run, but then both teams struggled to find the net and one three-point play by ATU in the next two minutes resulted in a 62-67 deficit for the Tigers.
With 1:20 left to play, Thomas took the game in his hands and used a 5-0 run over the next 30 seconds to tie the game at 67. With 13.8 seconds left on the clock the Wonder Boys went to the line and made one of two free throws. On the next possession, Thomas got a shot off and missed but Walters grabbed a rebound in mid-air and sent the shot back in with 1.9 left to play.
After several timeouts ATU threw the ball in from midcourt and hit the backboard and fell into the hands of sophomore A.J. Moutry with one second left. On the inbound pass Thomas was fouled which added one more point to the final for a 70-68 victory.
The teams were evenly matched across the box score, with ECU holding a slight 25-24 lead in overall shots.
The Tigers will now return home for their annual rivalry game against Southeastern Oklahoma State. Fans are encouraged to wear black to help ECU Blackout the Power of the Storm, Thursday, Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the Kerr Activities Center.