Suns Overcome Slow Start, Win at SNU

Arkansas Tech University recovered from a 15-point first-quarter deficit to defeat Southern Nazarene University 85-83 in women’s basketball at the Sawyer Center in Bethany, Okla., on Saturday afternoon.

The Golden Suns (9-1 overall, 5-1 Great American Conference) topped the Crimson Storm (5-6, 3-4) for a ninth consecutive meeting and completed a 2-0 road trip to the Sooner State. Tech defeated Oklahoma Baptist 96-87 on Thursday.

“I was really proud of our defense today, especially in the fourth quarter,” said Dave Wilbers, ATU head coach. “Our girls were a bunch of overcomers today. We looked like we had cement in our shoes early on, but credit our team. If you’re going to win a conference championship, you have to win road games.”

Jayana Sanders scored a career-high 24 points to lead the way for Tech. Lyrik Williams had 16 points and a career-high 14 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season. Ke’Vonshaye Stackhouse finished with 13 points, while Cheyenne North contributed 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to the Suns’ cause.

Southern Nazarene jumped out to a 19-4 lead over the first seven minutes. Eight straight points by the Golden Suns — a reverse layup by Jacie Higgins and two 3-pointers by Sanders — over a span of just 48 seconds to close out the first quarter cut the Crimson Storm’s lead to 21-17 after one period.

Arkansas Tech took the lead on two occasions during the second quarter, the second of which came at 31-29 on a Kylie Ladd 3-pointer with 7:11 left before halftime.

Southern Nazarene reclaimed the lead with four straight points, and later it claimed a 47-41 advantage at the intermission by scoring the final six points of the half. Tech was held scoreless over the final 2:27 of the second quarter.

It was a different story at the beginning of the third quarter. The Golden Suns’ 15-0 run started with a Sanders jumper at the 9:26 mark and ended on a Williams jumper with 5:55 left in the period. When the surge was complete, Tech led 56-49.

The Suns’ advantage ballooned to 11 points on two occasions in the third quarter. The Crimson Storm held Tech without a made field goal for a span of more than six minutes early in the fourth period, and when SNU’s Alexus Jones made 2-of-2 free throws with 24.4 seconds to go the Suns’ margin was down to a single point at 84-83.

Sanders made it 85-83 by connecting on 1-of-2 free throws with 16.3 seconds remaining, and Tech was able to force a turnover and a missed 3-pointer by the Crimson Storm during their final two possessions.

Adrienne Berry scored a team-high 24 points for Southern Nazarene.

The Golden Suns will travel to Arkadelphia for a 5:30 GAC contest against Henderson State University on Thursday, Jan. 11. Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and will have live coverage from the Duke Wells Center.