Nationally 13th-ranked Arkansas Tech survived a furious comeback bid by Arkansas-Monticello to register a 77-76 Great American Conference women’s basketball victory at Steelman Field House in Monticello on Thursday night. The Golden Suns (14-3 overall, 6-3 GAC) led 69-50 with 7:01 remaining, but a 26-8 UAM run pulled the Cotton Blossoms within 77-76 with six seconds remaining. After Arkansas Tech missed the front end of a 1-and-1, UAM got the rebound and called timeout with 3.8 seconds left. Starting 94 feet from their goal, the Cotton Blossoms called on Alex Hart to make the inbounds pass to Candace Virgadamo. She gave it back to Hart, who drove into the frontcourt. Hart’s progress was impeded at midcourt by Jessica Weatherford, who stood her ground and forced Hart to go right. As a result of that change in direction, Hart lost valuable time and had to put up a 35-footer at the buzzer. It clanged off the back rim no good and Arkansas Tech survived with a 1-point win. “I like the way we battled,” said Golden Suns head coach Dave Wilbers. “It wasn’t a perfect game. We made a lot of bad turnovers. Jessica did a good job on that final play. Hart had a straight line to the goal and she made her change direction.” Katie Horsman and Samanta Ludwig both had career nights for the Golden Suns. Horsman was 8-of-14 from the field and finished with a career-high 23 points. Ludwig was 11-of-13 from the field and notched a career-high 22 points. Ludwig also had 11 rebounds. Arkansas Tech out-rebounded UAM 41-15. That margin, and the 18-4 edge in second chance points that it created, allowed the Golden Suns to overcome a minus-15 turnover margin. The Cotton Blossoms committed just 13 turnovers, compared to 28 for Arkansas Tech. Weatherford finished with 13 points and eight rebounds for the Golden Suns. Rosie Silva had seven points, eight rebounds, four assists and five steals. Hart had a team-high 22 points for UAM (6-13, 2-7). Arkansas Tech will host Missouri Western for a 5:30 p.m. non-conference game at Tucker Coliseum on Monday, Feb. 6. Promotional ticket prices of $5 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens will be in effect. Those with a valid Arkansas Tech identification card will be admitted free of charge.
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