St. Joe Blues: Golden Suns Fall in Elite 8

Arkansas Tech’s dreams of an NCAA Division II women’s basketball national championship died alongside the banks of the Missouri River for a second consecutive season on Tuesday night.

Nationally third-ranked Michigan Tech took command early in the second half and defeated the nationally top-ranked Arkansas Tech Golden Suns 69-58 in the NCAA Division II Tournament national quarterfinals at the St. Joseph Civic Arena in St. Joseph, Mo.

Michigan Tech (30-2) advanced to face Northwest Missouri State in the NCAA Division II national semifinals at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 23.

Arkansas Tech saw its season end in the NCAA Elite Eight for a second consecutive year. Franklin Pierce eliminated the Golden Suns 77-62 in the 2010 national quarterfinals.

The Suns led 29-28 at haltime on Tuesday, but Michigan Tech scored the first seven points of the second half and never trailed again.

Mid-range jump shots from Lisa Staehlin and Lucy Dernovsek followed by an Angela Guisfredi 3-pointer put the Huskies in front 35-29 with 18:36 to go.

Michigan Tech eventually built a 14-point lead midway through the second half, but Arkansas Tech was not ready to say goodbye.

The Golden Suns scored eight unanswered points — capped by consecutive 3-pointers by Laura Beth Anderson and Jenny Vining — to pull within 52-46 with 9:02 left.

That was all that Arkansas Tech had. The Suns (30-3) made just three field goals the rest of the way, while Staehlin scored 11 points for the Huskies in the final 6:49. Her 3-point play with 1:25 left was the final dagger. Michigan Tech led 66-58 and the Suns never scored again.

Sam Hoyt finished with 18 points and Guisfredi had 16 points to lead the Huskies. They were a combined 9-of-15 from 3-point range.

Staehlin added 15 points. Arkansas Tech held Michigan Tech all-region forward Lucy Dernovsek to four points, but she grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds.

Jessica Weatherford (photographed) led the Golden Suns with 21 points. She also nabbed seven rebounds, four on the offensive glass.

Vining had 14 points and Anderson scored 13 points in their final collegiate game. Vining, Anderson and the injured Shaquilah Davis were the only three seniors for the 2010-11 Golden Suns.

Arkansas Tech was 61-6 with two NCAA Division II South Region titles, two Gulf South Conference Tournament championships and two regular season GSC West Division titles during the trio’s two years with the Golden Suns.