Trei LaJeunese, Sports Information Director
ARKADELPHIA, Ark. – In a game, where neither team led by more than eight points, junior Gabe McKenzie hit two triples in the final 20 seconds to give the East Central University men’s basketball team an 85-83 victory over Ouachita Baptist in Great American Conference action.
The Tigers (12-8, 10-6 GAC) saw four players hit double-digit point totals, with McKenzie leading the team with 18 points, six rebounds and an assist. Senior Tyler Armstrong added 17 points, sophomore Camron Talley 15 and junior Da’Rion King 12.
The teams battled through the first five minutes of the half, before a 13-0 run over the next three minutes by ECU gave them a 21-13 lead. Ouachita (9-12, 7-9 GAC) kept fighting and used several small runs to force a 33-all tie, with 2:30 left in the stanza. Defensive action picked up in the remaining time, but the Tigers were able to gain a slight advantage for a 38-37 lead heading into the locker room.
Ouachita started the second half on a 4-0 run to gain the advantage (41-38), with 18 minutes left to play. ECU slowly fought back, but could not get the lead back until, 11:30 minutes were left in the half, using a 6-0 run of their own for the 61-58 lead.
The teams then kept things close for the next two minutes until Ouachita started a 4-0 run to gain a lead larger than one possession. Ouachita kept the lead between two and five points until the final minute of play when a foul and a made free throw got the Tigers within one (80-79).
Ouachita got its own chance at two free throws to get the lead back to two. However, they missed the second and a defensive rebound by ECU set up a three pointer by McKenzie to give the Tigers an 82-81 lead, with 20 seconds left on the clock.
After a timeout, Ouachita got down the floor and hit a jumper with five seconds left to regain an 83-82 advantage. Both teams then took time outs and that set up a play for ECU to win the game. Freshman Cameron Hines sent a bounce pass to McKenzie, who hit a triple at the buzzer for the 85-83 win for ECU.
The Tigers will continue their road trip, but stay in Arkadelphia, Ark., to face Henderson State, Saturday, Feb. 10 at 3 p.m.