Two individuals taken from Sawyer Center by ambulances during women’s and men’s basketball games

SNU and Arkansas Tech’s men’s basketball teams huddle in the final minutes of the game. (Photo by Brad Crofford)

By Brad Crofford, Editor-in-Chief

Today’s basketball games against Arkansas Tech University were far more tense than usual, but it was not because of what happened on the court.

Over the course of the women’s and men’s games, two individuals were taken on stretchers from the Sawyer Center by paramedics. The nature and extent of their injuries were not announced.

The first incident happened soon after halftime during the women’s game. Jared Webster, SGA Vice President for Athletic Relations, was at the game. He described what he saw in an interview with The Echo soon after it happened.

“It was an older gentleman trying to make that first step onto the Storm Chaser section. He fell and injured his hip,” Webster said. Webster thinks it was a hip injury because “That’s what they [the personnel taking care of him] were looking at the whole time: his side. That is an assumption.”

The game was stopped and the players left the court while athletic training staff and paramedics looked after Robert Dorris. After Dorris was taken away, Scott Regester, the public address announcer, announced the man’s name and said a prayer for him, his paramedics, and his doctors.

The women’s game then resumed after brief warm-up, and the SNU women won with a score of 99-80.

Lightning struck twice as one of the opposing men’s team’s players, #22 Jeff Reese, also required paramedics’ attention. With 9:41 remaining in the first half of the game, play stopped as Reese was lying on the ground near the visiting team’s bench.

“There was a player who had just come off the court. He complained of being short of breath and collapsed,” Webster said. “They had to do CPR and resuscitate him.”

It was initially unclear  to those in attendance at the game what was going on. Freshman Katie Goodman was at the game when it happened.

“I don’t know what happened. All I know is they said someone passed out, and it got really tense in here all of a sudden,” Goodman said.

Reese cried out repeatedly while being tended to by athletic training staff and then paramedics. The gymnasium was almost entirely silent. The cheerleaders formed a circle on the floor and prayed. Reese was taken away on a stretcher. Regester announced Reese’s name and led a prayer.

Students took to Twitter to solicit prayer for Reese and show their support.

“Pray for Jeff Reese, Arkansas Tech basketball player. Just taken by ambulance from this basketball game,” Jakob Williams tweeted.

“Praying for Arkansas Tech and everyone affected by today,” Kaitlyn Belanger tweeted.

It was not immediately clear whether the men’s game would resume. Bobby Martin, SNU Athletic Director, came out to speak to the head coaches of both teams and the referees. After a brief discussion, it was announced play would resume in ten minutes.

When Arkansas Tech University’s men’s team regained the court to warm up, they were greeted by a standing ovation. In a show of solidarity, the members of SNU’s men’s team hugged each of Arkansas Tech University’s players.

SNU’s men’s team went on to win the game with a score of 61-54.

UPDATE, 8:31 p.m.:

The Great American Conference (@GACAthletics) tweeted the following message about 14 minutes ago:

UPDATE, 10:04 p.m.:
Sports Information’s article on the game provides more information about what happened to Arkansas Tech’s Jeff Reese. It says:

With 9:41 left in the first half, Arkansas Tech’s Jeff Resse came off the floor and complained of shortness of breath and within seconds came a call for paramedics after Reese collapsed on the ATU bench. Southern Nazarene’s athletic training staff, along with Arkansas Tech’s athletic trainer, immediately began working on Reese. After not feeling a pulse, both training staffs began administering CPR and used a defibrillator before Resse regained consciousness after lying lifeless for six minutes. Reese regained consciousness and began breathing again before paramedics stabilized Reese and transported him to a local hospital The ATU coaching staff said that they had talked with Reese shortly after the completion of the game and said he was stable and that he was being kept overnight for observation.

CORRECTION, 10:08: According to SNU Athletics’ twitter (@snuathletics), it is actually Robert Dorris, not Robert Norris as we originally reported.

UPDATE: According to Arkansas Tech’s Facebook page, Reese was released from the hospital on Wednesday, Feb. 6.