Suns Advance to GAC Tournament Final

It was 25 years ago this month that Arkansas Tech University recorded a memorable runaway victory over Southwestern Oklahoma State University in a semifinal game at the 1992 NAIA National Tournament.

It happened again on Saturday, this time in the semifinals of the 2017 Great American Conference Tournament.

The Golden Suns were dominant from the word go in a 96-60 win over the Lady Bulldogs at Bruin Fieldhouse in Bartlesville, Okla.

With the win, Arkansas Tech (22-6) advances to face nationally 13th-ranked Harding University (26-3) in the GAC Tournament championship game at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 5. Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and will have live coverage.

The Golden Suns jumped out to a 20-3 lead at the 5:17 mark of the first quarter, and their lead was never seriously threatened. Tech led 29-17 after one quarter, 44-26 at halftime and 76-45 at the end of three quarters.

Kelsey McClure scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the way. Danielle Frachiseur notched 16 points and eight rebounds, while Anissa Pounds added 15 points and eight assists.

D’Rae Tullock (13 points), Calli White (11 points) and Cheyenne North (10 points) rounded out a group of six Golden Suns in double figures in scoring.

Arkansas Tech out-rebounded the Lady Bulldogs 53-26, including an 18-2 edge in offensive rebounds. The Suns scored 23 second-chance points. SWOSU had none.

Tech out-scored the Lady Bulldogs 23-6 in points off turnovers, 18-3 in fast break points and 62-24 in points in the paint as the Suns bounced back from two regular-season losses to the Lady Bulldogs, including a home loss that ended Tech’s 22-game winning streak at Tucker Coliseum.

It was all reminiscent of that day in 1992 at Jackson, Tenn., when then-SWOSU head coach John Loftin legendarily turned to his assistant coach, Kelli Litsch, and advised her to lean back and watch the Golden Suns because she might never see the game played that well again.

It’s safe to assume that Coach Loftin would have been similarly impressed by Arkansas Tech on Saturday.

“I really thought our focus was good,” said Golden Suns head coach Dave Wilbers. “Our players were talking about the fact that we needed to redeem ourselves against (SWOSU), and they were right. We needed to. They legit beat us at home, and we had a lot of injuries when we had to go play on their home court. Our team is doing a really good job of sharing the basketball. We’re able to score in a lot of different ways.”

Pounds drew the defensive assignment Saturday on Southwestern Oklahoma State’s Hailey Tucker, the GAC player of the year and the leading scorer in the conference. Pounds held Tucker without a made field goal until the 2:55 mark of the fourth quarter.

“Anissa guarded her one-on-one and she stepped up to the challenge,” said Wilbers. “She took away her 3-point shot.”

Tyra Aska paced the Lady Bulldogs with 19 points. Tucker finished with 13 points.

SWOSU completed its season with an overall record of 20-10.