Trailing by six points entering the fourth quarter on Thursday afternoon, Arkansas Tech University head coach Dave Wilbers put his four healthy seniors together on the floor and gave them the opportunity to save their season.
Danielle Frachiseur, Kelsey McClure, Anissa Pounds and Calli White did just that, combining with Cheyenne North to lead the Golden Suns to a 69-57 victory over Ouachita Baptist University in the first round of the Great American Conference Tournament at Bruin Fieldhouse in Bartlesville, Okla.
With the win, Arkansas Tech (21-6) advances to face either Southwestern Oklahoma State University or Southern Nazarene University in the GAC Tournament semifinals at 2:15 p.m. on Saturday, March 4. Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com will have live coverage.
"I've been doing this a long time, and the first round at the conference tournament is always tough," said Wilbers. "I'm very proud of our team. I thought our zone defense was really good. It got (the Lady Tigers) out of their rhythm. Our seniors really stepped up."
Ouachita Baptist (12-17) led 39-31 at halftime and by as many as 10 points early in the third quarter before the Golden Suns switched from man-to-man defense to primarily zone defense for the remainder of the game.
That stopped the Lady Tigers' offensive momentum, but it wasn't until the final minute of the third quarter that Arkansas Tech got its attack into gear.
A jumper by North with 33 seconds remaining in the third period proved to be the beginning of 13 unanswered points that gave the Golden Suns the lead for good. Frachiseur capped the run with a bucket at the 6:57 mark of the fourth quarter to give Tech a 56-51 edge with 6:57 remaining.
The Suns' zone continued to confound the Lady Tigers, who scored just six points in the fourth quarter, and White drove the final nail on a 3-pointer with 59.3 seconds left to increase the margin to 68-57.
Pounds had 15 points, six rebounds and six assists. McClure contributed 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Frachiseur and North finished with 13 points apiece.
North also had eight rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots as she continues to recover from an ankle injury suffered Jan. 26 at Northwestern Oklahoma State University.
"Cheyenne came to me this week and said she was finally feeling good," said Wilbers. "She showed it today with her explosiveness."
White notched 10 points for Arkansas Tech, which improved to 3-0 against OBU this season and won its eighth consecutive meeting with the Lady Tigers.
Katie Kapler had a team-high 13 points for Ouachita Baptist, which saw its season end with the loss.