When it came down to crunch time at Bloomer Sullivan Arena in Durant, Okla., on Thursday night, nationally 23rd-ranked Arkansas Tech University would not yield.
The Golden Suns (7-2 overall, 5-0 Great American Conference) held Southeastern Oklahoma State without a point over the final three minutes of the game to defeat the Savage Storm 70-65.
Arkansas Tech scored the final nine points of the game, beginning with a put-back basket by Fatima Adams with 2:50 remaining. Tech’s Aujana Dawkins made two free throws at the 1:32 mark to tie the score at 65-65, and a steal by Adams with 34.1 seconds left set the stage for the Golden Suns to take the lead for good.
Adams was shaken up on the play, and Calli White was called upon to attempt the free throws. She made both, giving Tech a 67-65 edge.
A turnover by Southeastern Oklahoma State with 28.8 seconds left and 3-of-4 free throw shooting by the Golden Suns over the final 27.2 seconds sealed the deal for Arkansas Tech, which snapped a two-game losing streak in road contests against the Savage Storm.
“We got it done with a lot of heart,” said Golden Suns head coach Dave Wilbers. “We locked up and played defense. Our players did a good job of recognizing who their shooters are, and our defense came alive. We had several girls come off the bench and do a fantastic job. I thought we won the hustle plays in the second half.”
Arkansas Tech showed early signs of rust following a 23-day break from game competition.
The Golden Suns missed their first eight field goal tries, a fact that helped Southeastern Oklahoma State jump out to a 5-0 lead and maintain the advantage for most of the first half.
Sparked by a Fabiana Monte 3-pointer at the 4:16 mark of the second quarter, Arkansas Tech went on an 8-2 run and led 34-29 with 3:03 to go until halftime. The Savage Storm scored the final four points of the half, forcing the Golden Suns to settle for a 34-33 edge at the intermission.
Adams finished with 18 points and eight rebounds to lead Arkansas Tech. Fabiana Monte scored a season-high 11 points for the Suns, while Dawkins had 11 points and a season-high 12 rebounds for her first double-double of the season.
Rachel Wallace paced Southeastern Oklahoma State (3-8, 1-4) with 18 points.
The Golden Suns will complete a two-game road trip to Oklahoma by visiting East Central University for a 1 p.m. GAC contest at the Kerr Activities Center in Ada on Saturday, Jan. 9. Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com will have live coverage.