Wonder Boys fall to Augustana

LAURA BEAN/THE ARKA TECH: Coach Kline confronts the Wonder Boys during a regular season game at Harding.
LAURA BEAN/THE ARKA TECH: Coach Kline confronts the Wonder Boys during a regular season game at Harding.
LAURA BEAN/THE ARKA TECH: Coach Kline confronts the Wonder Boys during a regular season game at Harding.

Arkansas Tech’s season came to an end in the first round of the NCAA Division II tournament as the eighth seed Wonder Boys (18-14, 11-9 GAC) were ousted by the Central Region host and No. 1 seed Augustana (31-2) in a 104-77 loss Saturday night in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Tech had been on a six-game winning streak before the loss and had captured the Great American Conference Championship to earn an automatic bid in its seventh-consecutive tournament appearance.

Senior guard Jay Murphy (7-11 FGs, 5-7 3-pointers) dropped 23 points and grabbed seven rebounds in his last game in green and gold, while fellow seniors Mike Balogun and Clarence Willard scored 12 and 10. Junior guard D.J. Jethroe also hit double digits with 12 points and six rebounds.

After a quick Augustana bucket, Balogun buried a three to give Tech its only lead of the night only two minutes into the game. The Wonder Boys kept the deficit to single digits until the Vikings hit back-to-back 3-pointers to go up 29-19 with 9:42 left in the half. Play was fairly back and forth for the remainder of the half, but Augustana had a 42-34 lead at halftime.

The Vikings opened up the second half with a pair of layups and two sets of free throws to extend the gap to 14 (50-36).The lead grew to as much as 29 just under the four minute mark, and Tech was never able to make a significant dent in the deficit.

The Wonder Boys shot 45.2 percent from the field, 40 percent from deep and 64.3 percent at the line, but the Vikings’ 50 FG, 54.2 3-point and 75 FT percentages were the biggest factors in the blowout. The dominating performance started down low, as the host’s outrebounded Tech 45-31 and outscored the Wonder Boys 50- 32 in the paint.