Silva's Steals Lead Suns to 73-62 Win

Rosie Silva notched a school-record 12 steals and nationally 14th-ranked Arkansas Tech took another step toward the Great American Conference women’s basketball championship with a 73-62 win over the Harding Lady Bisons at Rhodes Field House in Searcy on Monday night.

Silva’s record night helped the Golden Suns (20-3 overall, 11-3 GAC) finish with a 28-4 edge in points off turnovers. Arkansas Tech forced Harding into 28 turnovers while commiting just 14 of its own.

“Rosie was amazing tonight,” said Golden Suns head coach Dave Wilbers. “I really like the way we took care of the basketball. We were able to get a lot of quality shots, even though we had one of our worst shooting percentages of the season.”

Arkansas Tech was 23-of-60 (38 percent) from the field, but its edge in turnover margin gave the Suns 13 more field goal tries than Harding. The Lady Bisons were 20-of-47 (43 percent) from the floor.

With the win, the Golden Suns avenged a home loss to Harding last month and clinched the 30th 20-win season in the 35-year history of Arkansas Tech women’s basketball.

The turning point came midway through the second half. Natalia Santos made a steal on one end and hit a 3-pointer on the other to give Tech a 48-41 lead with 11:05 left. Silva followed with a steal and layup. Those five points were the beginning of an 18-8 Golden Suns’ run that put them in front 63-49 with 4:30 left.

“Those plays were big from a momentum standpoint,” said Wilbers when asked about the steals by Santos and Silva. “We were able to create a lot of offense with our defense and disrupt their offense with deflections.”

Silva also had 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Santos notched 14 points. All 13 of Katie Horsman’s points came after halftime. She made two 3-pointers during Tech’s decisive 18-8 run. Jessica Weatherford had 12 points and five rebounds.

Kristen Celsor scored a season-high 29 points for Harding (16-8, 9-5).

The first half saw five ties and three lead changes.

Harding used a 12-2 run over a span of 5:10 to take a 28-26 edge in the final minute of the half, but Arkansas Tech scored seven unanswered points over the final 42 seconds of the period to take a 33-28 advantage at the intermission.

Silva sparked the surge with a 3-pointer, a steal and two free throws. Lily Abreu’s layup with six seconds left in the half — which was set up by a Weatherford steal and a Samanta Ludwig assist — sent Arkansas Tech to the locker room with a five-point lead. 

With the win, Tech maintains a one-half game lead over Southwestern Oklahoma State (16-9, 11-4) for first place in the GAC standings. The Bulldogs made 19 3-pointers in a 101-72 league win at East Central University on Monday.

Southwestern Oklahoma State will conclude its regular season by visiting Southeastern Oklahoma State on Thursday, Feb. 23.

The Golden Suns will go back on the road for a GAC contest at Ouachita Baptist University on Thursday, Feb. 23. Tip-off at Vining Arena in Arkadelphia is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

Radio station KWKK 100.9 FM will have the broadcast.

Click here to access an Internet stream of the broadcast.

Click here to learn more about Arkansas Tech women’s basketball.