Late Defensive Play Key in Suns’ Win

It takes courage to take a charge. Arkansas Tech University’s Kylie Ladd displayed that courage at a key moment on Saturday.

The junior guard from Ozark drew an offensive foul against Southern Arkansas University with 27.1 seconds remaining to help the Golden Suns earn a 73-69 Great American Conference win at Tucker Coliseum.

“It was a great play by Kylie,” said Dave Wilbers, ATU head coach. “We had some big moments today when we made some big plays.”

The SAU offensive foul gave the basketball back to Tech with the Suns leading 70-67. ATU beat the Lady Muleriders’ press on the subsequent possession for a Ke’Vonshaye Stackhouse layup to make it 72-67, and Cheyenne North made 1-of-2 free throws with 11.8 seconds left to seal the win.

Lyrik Williams paced the Golden Suns (10-2 overall, 6-2 GAC) with 20 points. She also grabbed eight rebounds. Jayana Sanders added 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor, while North finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

Arkansas Tech got off to a slow start for a third consecutive game. The Golden Suns missed 10 of their first 12 field goal tries, and Southern Arkansas took advantage by building an 18-7 lead at the 9:42 mark of the second quarter.

Tech responded by making six of its first nine field goal tries to begin the period, tying the score at 26-26 with 4:40 to go until halftime.

The Lady Muleriders (3-11, 2-6) reclaimed the lead with free throw shooting. SAU made 9-of-11 free tosses in the second quarter and went to the intermission with a 33-30 advantage.

Arkansas Tech took the lead for good midway through the third period with a 10-0 run over a span of 3:23. A pair of North free throws capped the surge and gave the Suns a 44-37 edge with 3:44 left in the third quarter.

Tech led 53-49 after three periods, and it opened up a seven-point margin by midway through the final period. The Lady Muleriders made one final push, cutting Tech’s lead to 70-67 on a Sue Key free throw with 37.7 seconds remaining.

That was when Ladd made her key defensive play for the Golden Suns. After an Arkansas Tech turnover in the backcourt, Ladd set herself in the lane and was bowled over by Key. It was Key’s fifth foul, and it proved to be the Lady Muleriders’ final stand.

Kimberly Crown notched 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Lady Muleriders. It was her fifth double-double of the season. Key finished with 16 points.

The Golden Suns will face the Harding University Lady Bisons at Rhodes-Reaves Field House in Searcy on Monday, Jan. 15. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m. Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com will provide live coverage.

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