Golden Suns Win GAC Tournament Title

Arkansas Tech University is the undisputed champion of Great American Conference women’s basketball for 2015-16.

The nationally 15th-ranked Golden Suns overpowered Southwestern Oklahoma State University 106-85 at Bruin Fieldhouse in Bartlesville, Okla., on Sunday to win the 2016 GAC Tournament championship trophy, which will rest alongside the 2015-16 GAC regular season championship trophy at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville.

Arkansas Tech’s Fatima Adams scored 34 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the title game. She was voted GAC Tournament most valuable player after averaging 29.3 points per game during the Golden Suns’ three-game run to the title and an automatic berth in the 2016 NCAA Division II Tournament.

Adams scored 26 first-half points on Sunday to stake Arkansas Tech to a 53-46 halftime lead.

“Fatima was really unstoppable, and we needed it,” said Golden Suns head coach Dave Wilbers. “Our 3-point shooting was off in the first half.”

The Golden Suns (26-3) heated up from the perimeter in the second half. Tech was just 2-of-10 from beyond the arc in the first half and 9-of-39 from 3-point range for the tournament until it knocked down 10 of its first 15 3-point attempts to begin the second half.

Arkansas Tech led 76-66 after three quarters. A trio of Calli White 3-pointers, an Anissa Pounds trey and a 3-point play by Anna Lea Little helped the Suns extend their lead to 91-77 at the 6:04 mark of the fourth quarter.

The final dagger came with 1:33 left when Pounds made her fifth and final 3-pointer of the second half to put Arkansas Tech over the century mark with a 102-81 lead.

The Golden Suns established a new GAC Tournament record for points in a game.

“The shots just started going in,” said Wilbers when asked about Tech’s second-half 3-point shooting. “We had players who can make 3-pointers who were missing good shots. I told Anissa to keep shooting them and they would go in.”

Bre Brooks had 21 points, six rebounds and six assists on Sunday. She and Kelsey McClure joined Adams as the Golden Suns’ representatives on the All-GAC Tournament team.

“Bre came here from a big-time program (the University of South Florida) because she wanted to play and start for a winner,” said Wilbers. “She’s improved so much. She’s gone from a player who was always looking for her shot to a player who is constantly making plays for her teammates.”

Pounds finished with 19 points, 17 of which came in the second half. White contributed 12 points. McClure notched nine points and five rebounds.

Arkansas Tech out-rebounded SWOSU 43-29 and accumulated an 18-2 edge in fast break points.

Hailey Tucker had a team-high 21 points for the Lady Bulldogs (20-11).

The Golden Suns learned on Sunday night that they will face nationally seventh-ranked Missouri Western State University (27-3) in the first round of the NCAA Division II Tournament Central Regional in Pittsburg, Kan., on Friday, March 11.

Tip-off is set for 8:30 p.m. Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and will provide live coverage.