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No. 2 Golden Suns Reach GSC Final

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If it’s Sunday in Southaven, the Golden Suns must be playing. Arkansas Tech advanced to the Gulf South Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament championship game for the fourth time in the last five years by defeating the Ouachita Baptist Lady Tigers 89-73 at the DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven, Miss., on Saturday. The nationally second-ranked Golden Suns (26-2) will face nationally third-ranked Delta State (26-2) in the championship game at 1 p.m. Sunday. Radio station KWKK 100.9 FM will broadcast the game in the Arkansas River Valley. The broadcast will be streamed over the Internet at www.athletics.atu.edu. This marks the 10th time in 11 all-time appearances that the Golden Suns have reached the final game of the GSC Tournament. Arkansas Tech was women’s GSC Tournament champion in 1998, 2003 and 2010. Arkansas Tech started just 4-of-15 from the field on Saturday, but the Golden Suns made nine of their next 11 field goal tries to take the lead for good. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Laura Beth Anderson and Lindsey Root capped a 20-6 run and gave Arkansas Tech a 28-16 lead with 5:41 left in the first half. The Golden Suns pushed the lead to 42-21 at halftime. Ouachita Baptist scored the first 10 points of the second half, but Jenny Vining stopped that spurt by nailing a 3-pointer with 16:23 left.

Vining’s trey gave Tech a 45-31 edge and the Suns went on to lead by as many as 24 points in the second half.

Anderson scored 21 points, grabbed seven rebounds, made seven assists and swiped four steals as Arkansas Tech remained undefeated all-time in GSC Tournament semifinal games.

Natalia Santos and Katie Horsman added 18 points apiece for the Golden Suns. Santos grabbed 10 rebounds. Horsman collected eight boards.

Vining scored 11 of her 13 points after halftime. Tech’s Shaquilah Davis had eight points and a career-high 13 rebounds.

The Golden Suns matched their season-high by committing 33 turnovers, but their defense was so good it did not matter.

Using mostly a mix of 1-3-1 and 2-3 zone defenses, Arkansas Tech held Ouachita Baptist to 24-of-79 (30 percent) shooting from the field. OBU was just 3-of-25 (12 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc.

The Golden Suns finished with a 52-43 rebounding edge and Tech was 35-of-40 at the free throw line.

Ouachita Baptist (20-8) came into the week ranked No. 6 in the NCAA Division II South Regional, and the Lady Tigers will be a candidate for an at-large berth in the NCAA Division II Tournament.

Those pairings and the location of the NCAA Division II South Regional will be announced on Sunday night. The winner of the Arkansas Tech-Delta State game on Sunday could be in line to host that regional.

The Lady Statesmen made it to Sunday's GSC Tournament championship game by defeating Harding 59-56 on Saturday. Delta State held the Lady Bisons without a made field goal for the final 4:13 as Delta State rallied from down 10 points in the second half to win.

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