Golden Suns’ Season Ends in NCAA 1st Round

Nationally 10th-ranked Harding University earned the Great American Conference regular season and postseason women’s basketball championships on the strength of its defense.

The Lady Bisons relied on that tool to eliminate Arkansas Tech University from the NCAA Division II Tournament 59-46 in a first-round game at Rhodes-Reaves Field House in Searcy on Friday night.

With the win, Harding (28-3) advanced to an NCAA Division II Tournament Central Regional semifinal game on Saturday, March 11.

The Golden Suns finished the season with an overall record of 22-8.

Harding jumped out to a 13-3 lead at the 5:55 mark of the first quarter. The Lady Bisons’ edge swelled to 19-7 after one quarter and 33-20 at halftime.

A scoreless drought over the final 7:54 of the third quarter sealed the Golden Suns’ fate. Harding forced Tech into 15 consecutive missed field goal attempts to close the period, and the Lady Bisons built a 47-26 lead going to the final 10 minutes.

“We were on 26 points for a long time,” said Golden Suns head coach Dave Wilbers. “In a game like this, you have to hit shots.”

Arkansas Tech did just that in the fourth quarter, connecting on eight of its first 16 field goal tries to begin the period. That flurry allowed the Golden Suns to pull within 56-44 with 2:40 remaining, but that was as close as they could get.

Anissa Pounds, one of six Arkansas Tech women’s basketball seniors playing their final game, had 17 points on Friday. She finished with 268 career made 3-pointers, third-most in Tech history, and 1,539 career points.

Sydnie Jones notched 15 points and Caroline Hogue scored 12 points for Harding, which improved to 4-0 against the Golden Suns this season.