Nationally fourth-ranked Arkansas Tech used an unthinkable comeback to defeat Ouachita Baptist 100-97 in double overtime and clinch the Gulf South Conference West Division women's basketball title outright on Saturday night in one of the greatest games ever played at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville.
The Golden Suns (24-2 overall, 13-1 GSC) trailed 77-66 with less than five minutes remaining in regulation. Key contributors Laura Beth Anderson, Shaquilah Davis and Katie Horsman all had four fouls. The outlook, from an Arkansas Tech perspective, was beyond bleak.
But the Golden Suns held OBU (19-7, 10-4) without a made field goal for the final 5:01 of regulation.
Arkansas Tech made 7-of-8 from the free throw line over the final 4:18 of the second half to help fuel the comeback.
Tech's Jessica Weatherford forced overtime with an offensive rebound and putback with 1:07 left. Her bucket completed a 13-2 Golden Suns' run to end regulation. The game went to the first overtime period with the score tied 79-79.
Arkansas Tech had a chance to end it after five extra minutes, but OBU's A'Laeshia Adams drove the length of the floor for a layup with 0.5 seconds remaining that tied the score at 85-85 and forced a second overtime.
Five straight Tech points --- a free throw by Weatherford, two free tosses by Natalia Santos and a layup by Weatherford --- finally gave the Golden Suns some separation at 93-88 with 2:32 to go in double overtime.
Gabby Coleman scored for the Lady Tigers with 1:03 left to get Ouachita Baptist within 97-94, but Santos knocked down two free throws with 43.5 seconds left and then blocked a Lady Tiger layup try with 28 seconds remaining. Weatherford got the rebound to preserve a 99-94 Suns' edge, and that defensive stop proved to be the clincher.
Sarah Martin, who hit a 3-pointer to start the second overtime, added a free throw for Arkansas Tech with 14.2 seconds left. Coleman made a 3-pointer at the buzzer for Ouachita Baptist to set the final score.
Anderson scored 23 points to lead the Golden Suns in scoring. Weatherford had 22 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists. Santos added 19 points and nine rebounds.
Jenny Vining notched 12 points, six assists and four steals in 48 minutes for Arkansas Tech. Davis contributed 10 points and eight rebounds. Horsman scored eight points.
Coleman paced Ouachita Baptist with 27 points.
The win was the 100th career victory for Arkansas Tech head coach Dave Wilbers, who is 100-20 in four seasons with the Golden Suns.
The Golden Suns will face West Georgia in the first round of the GSC Tournament at the DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven, Miss., on Thursday, March 3. Tip-off is set for 2:45 p.m.
Arkansas Tech defeated UWG 66-56 earlier this season in a non-conference game at Carrollton, Ga., on Nov. 29, 2010.
Radio station KWKK 100.9 FM will broadcast all games involving Arkansas Tech at the GSC Tournament. The broadcasts will be streamed over the Internet at www.athletics.atu.edu.
Click here to view the GSC Tournament home page.
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