After four years of blood, sweat and tears, Arkansas Tech University’s Ryann Goodsell and Leighton Taylor walked off the Tucker Coliseum floor for the final time as winners.
The Golden Suns gave their two seniors a 66-45 victory over Southern Nazarene University in ATU’s 2019-20 home finale on Saturday afternoon.
“It’s a sad day, but it’s also a happy day,” said Dave Wilbers, ATU head coach. “Leighton and Ryann have fulfilled everything we ask of a student-athlete at Arkansas Tech.”
Arkansas Tech (16-8 overall, 13-7 Great American Conference) maintained a share of fourth place in the GAC standings with two games remaining in the regular season.
Southern Nazarene (15-9, 12-8) led by as many as 11 points in the first quarter before the Golden Suns made their move.
Sparked by Jayana Sanders’ buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the first period, Arkansas Tech went on a 13-0 run to claim a 22-18 edge at the 6:22 mark of the second quarter.
Sanders did it again at the end of the half. Her third trey of the opening 20 minutes went through the net as the buzzer sounded and sent the Golden Suns to the intermission with a 35-26 advantage.
A flurry of three 3-pointers over a span of 1:15 helped Arkansas Tech pull away during the third period. Two Lycia Peevy treys sandwiched around one by Kaley Shipman propelled the Golden Suns to a 14-2 run that gave them a 51-30 lead with 4:25 left in the third quarter.
Arkansas Tech protected its lead by forcing Southern Nazarene to miss 11 of its final 12 third-period field goal attempts.
The Golden Suns led 53-34 after three quarters and by at least 18 points the rest of the way.
Shipman and Peevy finished with 17 points apiece. Peevy added 11 rebounds for her third double-double of the season. Sanders finished with 15 points, six rebounds, six assists and one turnover in 36 minutes.
“Jayana and I had a long talk about three weeks ago about the tempo of the game,” said Wilbers. “Not every game is the same. Sometimes we can get out and run a little bit, and sometimes it is more of a half-court game. She’s been in (Tucker Coliseum) working and getting shots up, and when a kid works like she has been, she is going to improve.”
The Golden Suns will close out the 2019-20 regular season with a two-game road trip to the Sooner State.
Arkansas Tech will face Northwestern Oklahoma State University at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27, at Percefull Fieldhouse in Alva, Okla., and Southwestern Oklahoma State University at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 29, at Pioneer Cellular Event Center in Weatherford, Okla.
Both games will be broadcast by KCJC 102.3 FM. Additional live coverage will be provided by www.arkansastechsports.com.