They are the three most powerful words come tournament time in college basketball: survive and advance.
Arkansas Tech University did exactly that on Friday night at Bruin Fieldhouse in Bartlesville, Okla.
Aujana Dawkins’ layup at the final buzzer allowed the nationally 15th-ranked Golden Suns to slip past the University of Arkansas-Monticello 60-58 in the first round of the 2016 Great American Conference Tournament.
With the win, top-seeded Arkansas Tech (24-3) advances to face fourth-seeded Southern Arkansas University (19-8) in the GAC Tournament semifinals at 8 p.m. Saturday. Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com will have live coverage.
UA-Monticello (13-14) tied the score at 58-58 when Jordan Goforth went 1-for-2 at the free throw line with 4.3 seconds left. Dawkins got the rebound when Goforth missed the second shot, and the Golden Suns called timeout to set up their final chance.
After UAM denied Tech’s Anissa Pounds as the recipient of the inbound pass, Kelsey McClure flashed to the top of the key and took it. She drove to the right side of the lane, lost control of the ball for a moment and tipped it to Dawkins, who was waiting just left of the basket.
Dawkins’ layup with through the net as the final horn sounded and the Golden Suns celebrated.
McClure led Arkansas Tech with 13 points on Friday night. She was 6-of-7 from the field, and the game-winning assist was her third of the night.
“Kelsey has just improved and improved,” said Golden Suns head coach Dave Wilbers. “Credit her…she stayed the course this season. The girl can shoot the ball.”
Fatima Adams and Bre Brooks had 11 points apiece for Arkansas Tech before they fouled out. Dawkins finished with eight points and 10 rebounds.
Ayesha Wahid notched 12 points for the eighth-seeded Cotton Blossoms, while GAC all-time leading scorer Jordan Goforth had 11 points and a career-high 20 rebounds in her final collegiate game. Goforth finished with 1,802 career points.
The Golden Suns finished with a 20-9 advantage in points off turnovers and a 14-3 edge in second-chance points. As a result, they get a second chance to play in Bartlesville this weekend.