Jan. 14—MAGNOLIA, Ark. — East Central sophomore Emily Wilson is being eased back into the lineup after coming off an injury. But she made the most of her 19 minutes against host Southern Arkansas Thursday night.
Wilson finished a perfect 3-for-3 from the floor and hit a go-ahead basket with 34 seconds left in the game to help the Tigers knock off Southern Arkansas 79-76 in a Great American Conference road game inside the W.T. Watson Athletic Center.
It was the first conference victory of the season for the Tigers and also the first win since interim head coach Heather Hurt took over on Dec. 15. East Central is now 4-7 overall and 1-6 in the GAC, while the Muleriders dropped to 5-8 and 1-6.
"I am very proud of our group. We fought with great effort and togetherness," said Hurt. "We stepped up to the challenge and fought through adversity."
After Wilson hit a jumper that put ECU ahead 77-76, SAU's Addy Tremie missed a 3-pointer but Braydyn Hill came up with the offensive rebound. That gave Tremie another shot — this time from inside the paint — but she missed that attempt as well and Izzy Gummers secured the rebound. She was fouled and hit two clutch free throws with :08 showing.
Diamond Morris got off a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the home team, but that shot was off the mark allowing ECU to escape with the road win.
Wilson, an All-Stater from Vanoss High School, finished with 11 points and hit 3-of-4 free throws off the bench for the Tigers. She had made a 3-pointer with 1:08 remaining in the contest that put ECU in front 75-74. Kylie Warren answered for Southern Arkansas with two free throws with 50 seconds left that put the hosts back on top 76-75 and set the stage for ECU's final rally.
"Emily Wilson hit two big shots to put us up late," Hurt said. "A lot of players stepped up and had great games. It was a team effort and I am very proud of every single one of them."
When SAU's Brooklin Brown sank a 3-pointer at the 3:45 mark of the second period, the Muleriders had opened up a 33-22 lead. East Central was able to close the gap to 39-32 by halftime.
Southern Arkansas still led 57-49 heading to the fourth period before the ECU offense ended the game with a 30-19 surge.
East Central finished a sizzling 12-of-16 (75%) from the field in the final period and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line. SAU made just 6-of-16 (37.5%) field goals in the fourth quarter.
Four Tigers joined Wilson by scoring in double figures — Mackenzie Crusoe, Kate Ogle, Izzy Cummins and Ashlyn Evans-Thompson.
Crusoe led the way with a season-high 23 points. She went 8-for-10 from the field and 7-for-9 from the free-throw line while adding five assists, four rebounds, and three steals.
Ogle was next with 13 points, going 6-for-11 from the floor and adding six boards.
Cummins scored 12 points and recorded a team-high eight rebounds, while Evans-Thompson scored 10 points.
Brown led the Muleriders with 16 points and eight rebounds. She hit a trio of 3-pointers. Warren came off the bench to score 12 points and also had six assists.
East Central made 21-of-26 free throws compared to a 14-of-19 showing by SAU. The Muleraders sank 14-of-35 3-point shots while ECU hit just 2-of-11 tries (both by Wilson).
ECU battles host Arkansas-Monticello at 1 p.m. today to complete its two-game road trip.