Nationally fourth-ranked Arkansas Tech clinched a share of the 2010-11 Gulf South Conference West Division women's basketball championship by defeating the Harding Lady Bisons 74-58 at Rhodes Field House in Searcy on Thursday night.
The Golden Suns (23-2 overall, 12-1 GSC) held Harding without a made field goal for a span of almost 10 minutes early in the second half to pull away for their ninth consecutive win.
With the win, Arkansas Tech clinches at least a share of the 21st regular season conference title in the 34-year history of Golden Suns basketball.
Tech led by as many as 11 points in the first half, but Harding chipped away. When Kristen Celsor made a layup for the Lady Bisons with 18:08 left in the second half, the Golden Suns' lead was down to 38-37.
Natalia Santos responded with a layup for Tech, and back-to-back 3-pointers by Laura Beth Anderson and Jenny Vining helped the Suns extend their advantage to 46-38 with 15:07 remaining.
Tech leaned on its defense to grow that lead. After Celsor's layup with 18:08 left, Harding did not make another field goal for nine minutes and 46 seconds.
The Suns led 55-40 with 9:54 to go. A 7-0 Lady Bisons' run opened an ounce of doubt, but Vining (photographed) quickly closed it with two free throws and a 3-pointer. Her trey with 5:43 left made it 60-47. The Suns led by at least 12 points the rest of the way as they improved to 49-2 all-time against Harding.
Anderson scored a career-high 24 points for Arkansas Tech. She was 8-of-11 from the field, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Anderson also had five assists and five rebounds.
Vining added 16 points and four assists, while Jessica Weatherford notched 11 points and eight rebounds for the Suns.
Sierra Rollins led Harding (17-8, 8-5) with 19 points and 16 rebounds.
The Golden Suns will close out the 2010-11 regular season by hosting Ouachita Baptist for a 4 p.m. GSC contest at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville on Saturday, Feb. 26. Arkansas Tech can clinch the GSC West title outright with a win over the Lady Tigers.
Tickets will go on sale at the coliseum ticket office at 3 p.m. Saturday. Those with a valid Tech identification card will be admitted free.
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