Arkansas Tech downs Tarleton State
Wonder Boys make first trip to third round with overtime win
WICHITA FALLS, Texas -- Arkansas State took down No. 9 Tarleton State 64-63 on Sunday in the first meeting between the teams The Wonder Boys held on in overtime and advanced to the third round of the NCAA tournament.
The Wonder Boys reached a regional final for the first time in school history with the win after losing in the regional semi-finals in overtime two of the last three years.
The game was tight between the two-seed Texans and the third-seeded Wonder Boys through the first half. Tarleton State, Division II’s stingiest defense, made life on the perimeter tough for the prolific 3-point shooters of Tech, holding them to two of five shooting from beyond the arc.
Arkansas Tech found some success with five steals early and led by as many as eight points in the first 12 minutes of the game.
Senior Mykel Cleveland accounted for three of the steals despite coming out of the game momentarily early in the contest after running into a hard screen by Tarleton State’s Wes Dipprey.
Tarleton State then went on 12-1 run over a 5:22 time span to take a three-point lead before Wonder Boys’ senior center Will Paul’s trifecta knotted the game at 18-18 with 3:13 left in the half, igniting a 9-0 run for Tech.
Texans’ center Fabian Wilson, a Lone Star Conference first-team selection, broke the dry spell with a buzzer-beating put-back layup to cut the Wonder Boys lead to 24-20 at the intermission.
Paul led Tech with 10 points in the first half, while Wilson paced Tarleton State with seven.
Both teams traded baskets to open the second half until senior Shedrick Haynes trey capped off a 7-0 run by the Texans to tie the game at 29 with 16:50 left.
Davis scored seven of the next 10 points for the Wonder Boys, making it a six-point game at 39-33.
Wilson picked up his third foul on a drive by Paul at the 12:57 mark, sending him to the Texans’ bench. He didn’t sit on the bench long, coming back in and putting in a layup with 8:13 remaining, completing a three-point play after a foul by freshman Nick Wayman, pulling Tarleton within two at 43-41.
Paul picked up his fourth foul of the game with 5:58 left on a drive by the Texans’ Brian Word, who connected on one of two from the line to make it a two-point game at 46-44.
Tarleton State was able to keep the game close and in the game’s final minute was when it got real interesting.
After a layup by the Texans’ Chris Harrell cut the lead to 56-54, Tarleton stole the ball back, but Harrell was called for a player control foul as he drove into the lane.
On the ensuing inbounds play, the Wonder Boys’ Williamson lost control of the ball, giving the Texans the ball with seven seconds left. Haynes then drove the right baseline, putting up a five-footer to tie the game at 56 with three seconds left.
Senior Matt Haney’s 3-pointer at the buzzer to try and win the game for Arkansas Tech in regulation was off the mark, forcing overtime.
In overtime, Tech attacked the basket for layups by Davis, Paul and Cleveland, while Tarleton worked the perimeter with a trey from Haynes, his fourth of the game, to make the game 62-59.
After a put back basket by Wilson, Cleveland knocked down both free throws after being fouled to put Tech up 64-61 with 12 seconds left.
Haynes was fouled quickly by the Tech defense, putting him on the line, where he made both shots to cut the margin to one at 64-63.
On the inbounds, Tech’s Davis was fouled, sending him to the charity stripe, where he missed both shots. Tarleton State’s final 3-point shot was long, sealing the win for the Wonder Boys.
The Texans were led by Haynes' game-high 22 points, including four of six from three point distance. Harrell added 14 and Wilson 13 points and 16 rebounds for Tarleton State.
The Wonder Boys' Paul had 19 points in the win, while Davis pitched in 15 points and Williamson 11.