Golden Suns to Meet Harding in GAC Final

Arkansas Tech University and Harding University will meet in the championship match of the Great American Conference Volleyball Tournament for the fourth time in the seven-year history of the league.

The nationally eighth-ranked Golden Suns (34-0) and the Lady Bisons (27-5) will take the court at Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs at 2 p.m. Saturday with the GAC Tournament championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament on the line.

Live coverage of the match will be available at www.gacsportsnetwork.com.

ATU advanced to the final with a four-set win over Southern Nazarene University on Friday. HU made it to the championship match with a straight sets semifinal victory against Oklahoma Baptist University.

Arkansas Tech defeated Harding twice during the regular season. The Golden Suns swept the Lady Bisons 25-22, 25-14, 25-16 when the two sides met in Russellvile on Sept. 19.

It was a different story for the rematch at Searcy on Nov. 7. Tech survived three Harding match points in the fifth and final set to earn a 27-25, 21-25, 25-15, 18-25, 20-18 win that clinched the GAC regular season title outright for the Golden Suns.

Arkansas Tech is 2-1 against Harding in their three previous meetings in the GAC Tournament final. The Golden Suns defeated the Lady Bisons in 2011 and 2013, while Harding held the upper hand in 2012.

ATU is searching for its fourth GAC Volleyball Tournament title. The Golden Suns also won the championship in 2014.

Wonder Boys Fall in Overtime at ECU

East Central University scored the final five points of overtime to outlast Arkansas Tech University 90-86 in Great American Conference men’s basketball at the Kerr Activities Center in Ada, Okla., on Thursday night.

The Tigers (1-0 overall, 1-0 GAC) took the lead for good at 87-86 on a Brett Cannon layup with 1:24 left in overtime. Camron Talley connected on 1-of-2 free throws for ECU with 10.1 seconds left and then made a steal with 1.5 seconds left. Marcus Lytle was fouled after Talley’s steal and made 2-of-2 free throws to set the final score.

Arkansas Tech (2-1, 0-1) had forced overtime on a 3-pointer by Harris Brown with 18.5 seconds left in regulation. The two sides went to the extra period tied 77-77.

Cannon finished with a game-high 23 points for the Tigers.

Brown and R.J. Glasper led the Wonder Boys in scoring with 16 points apiece.

ECU out-rebounded Arkansas Tech 50-40, and the Tigers shot 50 percent (33-of-66) from the field.

The first half saw five ties and three lead changes. A 7-0 spurt by East Central late in the half helped the Tigers build a 40-38 halftime edge despite the fact that Tech outscored ECU 11-1 in points off turnovers during the first 20 minutes.

The Wonder Boys will visit Southeastern Oklahoma State University for a 3 p.m. GAC contest in Durant, Okla., on Saturday, Nov. 18.

Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com will have live coverage.

Golden Suns Come Back From 15 Down, Win

Arkansas Tech University rallied from a 15-point second-half deficit on Thursday night to defeat East Central University 84-74 in overtime at the Kerr Activities Center in Ada, Okla., in the Great American Conference women’s basketball opener for both teams.

East Central (0-1 overall, 0-1 GAC) led 46-31 with 5:42 left in the third quarter. By the end of that period, Arkansas Tech (2-0, 1-0) had drawn within 51-45.

The Golden Suns took their first lead since the opening quarter at 54-53 on a pair of Ryann Goodsell free throws at the 6:43 mark of the fourth quarter. The lead went back and forth between the two teams until a 3-point play by Tech’s Lyrik Williams with 25.1 seconds left in regulation tied the score at 70-70 and ultimately forced overtime.

Those three points were the beginning of a 13-0 Golden Suns’ run that gave them an 80-70 edge with 1:32 remaining in overtime. Tech sealed the victory by making 4-of-4 free throws over the final 44.9 seconds.

The Golden Suns out-rebounded ECU 62-38. Tech grabbed 24 offensive rebounds. ATU was 31-of-41 at the free throw line, compared to 19-of-21 for the Tigers.

“We showed a bunch of guts tonight,” said Dave Wilbers, ATU head coach. “We never quit. Our press was really good. We got some turnovers and were able to take them out of their game at times. The rebounding was all about effort, which is something we’ve been working on and stressing.”

Cheyenne North (17 points and 15 rebounds) and Lyrik Williams (12 points and 11 rebounds) both had double-doubles for the Golden Suns. Jayana Sanders finished with 13 points for Tech, while Jacie Higgins (12 points), Kylie Ladd (12 points) and Ke’Vonshaye Stackhouse (11 points) completed a group of six ATU players in double figures in scoring.

Alexa Adair and Devon Branch scored 21 points apiece for the Tigers.

The Golden Suns will face Southeastern Oklahoma State University for a 1 p.m. GAC contest at Bloomer Sullivan Arena in Durant, Okla., on Saturday, Nov. 18.

Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com will have live coverage.

Golden Suns Advance to GAC Semifinals

Nationally eighth-ranked Arkansas Tech University rolled past Southeastern Oklahoma State University 25-21, 25-18, 25-18 in first-round volleyball action at the Great American Conference Tournament at Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs on Thursday night.

Lexie Johnston made 12 kills, Allie Anderson had 11 kills and Amanda Milnick made 37 assists to extend the longest active winning streak in NCAA Division II volleyball to 33 matches.

The Golden Suns (33-0) will face either Northwestern Oklahoma State University or Southern Nazarene University in the GAC Tournament semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday. The tournament championship match is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday.

Conference Play Begins for ATU Basketball

Arkansas Tech University will open the Great American Conference portion of its 2017-18 men’s and women’s basketball schedules this week by traveling to Oklahoma for a pair of doubleheaders.

The Golden Suns and the Wonder Boys will face East Central University at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16, in Ada before traveling on to Durant for a 1 and 3 p.m. doubleheader against Southeastern Oklahoma State University on Saturday, Nov. 18.

ATU Golden Suns (1-0) vs. ECU Tigers (0-0)
When: Thursday, Nov. 16, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Kerr Activities Center, Ada, Okla.
Radio/Internet: KCJC 102.3 FM/www.arkansastechsports.com
Series: ATU leads 10-6

About the Golden Suns: Arkansas Tech opened its season on Sunday with an 86-49 non-conference victory over Lane College. Five Golden Suns reached double figures in scoring, led by senior forward Cheyenne North and freshman guard Ke’Vonshaye Stackhouse with 13 points apiece. Arkansas Tech is 2-5 all-time in road women’s basketball games against East Central, and the Suns have only left Ada with a win one time since the GAC was began competition in 2011-12. ECU topped Tech 67-55 on Feb. 23, 2017, in the Suns’ most recent visit to the Kerr Activities Center.

About the Tigers: East Central will make its 2017-18 women’s basketball regular season debut on Thursday. The Tigers dropped a 110-46 decision to Oklahoma State University in an exhibition game on Oct. 29. ECU was 14-14 overall and reached the semifinal round of the GAC Tournament last year. Senior guard Devon Branch led the Tigers in scoring (14.1 points per game) in 2016-17.

ATU Wonder Boys (2-0) vs. ECU Tigers (0-0)
When: Thursday, Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Kerr Activities Center, Ada, Okla. 
Radio/Internet: KCJC 102.3 FM/www.arkansastechsports.com
Series: ECU leads 15-10

About the Wonder Boys: Arkansas Tech defeated the University of Minnesota-Crookston 114-105 and Concordia University-St. Paul 86-67 last weekend during a season-opening classic at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville. The Wonder Boys lead the GAC in scoring offense (100 points per game). Five ATU players — junior guard Alex Brown (15 points per game), senior forward Trevin Woods (15 points per game), freshman guard R.J. Glasper (14.5 points per game), junior guard Harris Brown (14.5 points per game) and senior guard Montrell Williams (13.5 points per game) — are averaging double figures in scoring.

About the Tigers: East Central has yet to play a regular season game in 2017-18, but the Tigers do have three exhibition games under their collective belt. They lost exhibitions against NCAA Division I members the University of Oklahoma 114-78, New Mexico State University 81-55 and the University of Texas-San Antonio 92-59. ECU was 25-8 overall, GAC regular season co-champion and GAC Tournament champion in 2016-17. The Tigers reached the second round of the 2017 NCAA Division II Tournament.