For all of time, when anyone researches the list of Great American Conference women's basketball champions, the name they will see at the top of the list will be Arkansas Tech University.
The nationally 13th-ranked Golden Suns clinched the GAC title outright with a 93-58 win over the Southern Arkansas Lady Muleriders at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville on Saturday.
It is the 22nd regular season conference title in the 35-year history of intercollegiate women's basketball at Arkansas Tech. The Golden Suns finished one game in front of second-place Southwestern Oklahoma State.
"We had three conference losses early on," sad Golden Suns head coach Dave Wilbers. "There were a lot of folks wondering if we had a bad team. What I saw was that our players kept coming to the gym. They knew we were going to be okay. We went to work."
Arkansas Tech took control of Saturday's game with a 15-2 run over a span of 5:23 midway through the first half.
Josie Bazilio sparked the run with a free throw and a 17-foot jump shot from the left baseline. By the time Sarah Martin hit a 19-foot jumper from the right wing at the 6:01 mark of the first half, the Golden Suns led 31-15.
Arkansas Tech went on to lead 39-26 at halftime, and the Suns removed all doubt with a 20-0 spurt early in the second half.
Rosie Silva got it started with a 3-pointer at the 18:16 mark. She and Natalia Santos had six points apiece during a surge that gave Tech a 62-31 advantage with 13:22 to go.
The Suns coasted home from there and honored their four seniors --- Santos, Katie Horsman, Samanta Ludwig and Lindsey Root --- in a post-game ceremony.
Santos had 23 points and 11 rebounds to lead Arkansas Tech in her final home appearance. Silva finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Tech's Jessica Weatherford had 14 points, while Ludwig notched 12 points and 10 rebounds. Horsman made it five Golden Suns in double figures by scoring 10 points.
Two seniors playing their final collegiate game led SAU. Shenelda Levingston had 15 points and Kmaria Hobbs netted 14 points. The Lady Muleriders (2-24, 2-14) will not advance to the postseason.
The Golden Suns will be the No. 1 seed in the GAC Tournament, which will be played next weekend at Bruin Fieldhouse in Bartlesville, Okla.
Arkansas Tech's women will face Southeastern Oklahoma State in the first round at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 2.
The Golden Suns defeated the Savage Storm 61-55 in Russellville on Jan. 19 and 71-52 in Durant, Okla., on Feb. 16.
Radio station KWKK 100.9 FM will broadcast all of Arkansas Tech's men's and women's games from the GAC Tournament. The broadcasts will be streamed over the Internet at www.athletics.atu.edu.
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