Suns Take GSC Title in Double OT Thriller

In one of the greatest championship games in Gulf South Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament history, Arkansas Tech outlasted Delta State to defeat the Lady Statesmen 75-73 in double overtime and win its first women’s GSC Tournament title in seven years on Sunday at the DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven, Miss.

The nationally sixth-ranked Golden Suns (28-2) made 5-of-6 free throws over the final 1:34 of the first overtime to overcome a 68-63 deficit and force a second overtime.

Nationally eighth-ranked Delta State’s top two post players — Veronica Walker and Shameka Russell — both fouled out during that first overtime.

Tech took a 73-72 lead on a Jenny Vining 3-pointer with 2:52 left in double overtime. It was the Suns’ only 3-pointer of the day.

Delta State’s Bug Cooper tied it at 73-73 with a free throw at the 2:39 mark of the second extra period.

Jessica Weatherford provided Tech with its winning margin by nailing a jumper in the lane with 2:11 remaining.

From there, the Golden Suns turned it over to their defense. Delta State committed two turnovers, missed two free throws and missed a pair of 3-pointers during its final four possessions.

Natalia Santos sealed it for Tech by making a steal at the top of the key as time expired.

Santos matched her career high with 28 points on Sunday. She also grabbed 15 rebounds and was named GSC Tournament most outstanding player.

Weatherford set a new career high with 26 points. She collected 11 rebounds.

Santos and Weatherford were a combined 22-of-39 from the field.

The title is Tech’s third in the GSC Women’s Basketball Tournament. The Golden Suns also wore the crown in 1998 and 2003.

Walker had 25 points and 19 rebounds for Delta State (25-3) before she fouled out.

The loss snapped a string of four consecutive GSC Tournament titles for the Lady Statesmen.

Arkansas Tech will host the NCAA Division II Tournament South Regional for women’s basketball next weekend. Check back with this week for much more about that event.