Five Arkansas Tech University players reached double figures in scoring and the Golden Suns rolled to an 85-60 win over Southern Arkansas University at the W.T. Watson Athletic Center in Magnolia on Saturday.
Jacie Higgins led the way with 18 points as Arkansas Tech (10-12 overall, 7-9 Great American Conference) won for the fourth time in its last five games and assumed sole possession of seventh place in the GAC women's basketball standings with six regular season games remaining.
"Basketball is a game that sometimes it takes time to learn each other and what we're doing," said Dave Wilbers, ATU head coach. "We are making a lot more assists now and sharing the basketball really well. The key defensively is we are keeping our hands off the drivers. That has very consistently been called this year, and we're doing a better job of not doing that. That's really the key to our season. If we don't put people at the free throw line, we're defending really well otherwise."
Arkansas Tech shot 62 percent from the field during the opening 10 minutes and led 19-13 after one quarter.
The Golden Suns expanded their lead with an 8-0 run that began with a Higgins bucket at the 4:13 mark of the second quarter.
When Ke'Vonshaye Stackhouse capped the spurt by making a 3-pointer with 2:32 left until halftime, ATU led 35-24. The Suns held a 37-28 advantage at halftime.
Arkansas Tech sealed the deal with two more runs during the third quarter.
Lyrik Williams put the finishing touch on a 7-0 spurt with an 8-foot jumper from left of the lane with 6:02 to play in the period. Tech led 46-32.
An 8-0 outburst later in the quarter allowed the Golden Suns to take a 63-43 lead to the fourth quarter. The margin remained 20 points or greater the rest of the afternoon.
Arkansas Tech forced SAU into 21 turnovers and committed just 11 of its own. The Golden Suns finished with a 26-11 edge in points off turnovers and shot 67 percent from the field, their best shooting day of the season against a GAC opponent.
Hannah Villines had 17 points, nine rebounds and six assists for ATU. Stackhouse notched 15 points, while Williams finished with 14 points. Alicia Mardis added 12 points and five steals.
Tamera Shaver scored 13 points for the Lady Muleriders (2-20, 1-15), who suffered their ninth consecutive loss to Arkansas Tech and their seventh consecutive defeat overall.
The Golden Suns will return home for a 5:30 p.m. GAC game against Harding University on Thursday, Feb. 14, at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville.
Tickets ($5 adults/$3 students and senior citizens) will be available at the door. Free admission will be granted to those with a valid ATU identification card.
Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com will provide live coverage.