Suns Top NWOSU, Clinch Seventh Seed

The No. 7 seed in the 2019 Great American Conference Tournament for women’s basketball belongs to Arkansas Tech University.

The Golden Suns (13-14 overall, 10-11 GAC) rallied from down 12 points in the second half to defeat Northwestern Oklahoma State University 70-67 at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville on Thursday night.

As a result, Arkansas Tech will face the to be determined No. 2 seed at noon on Thursday, March 7, in the opening round of the GAC Tournament at Bruin Fieldhouse in Bartlesville, Okla.

Jayana Sanders led the way for the Suns with 19 points. She also dished out six assists against no turnovers. Jacie Higgins added 15 points and seven assists.

All 12 of Hannah Villines’ points came in the second half. She also grabbed eight rebounds for ATU, which finished with a 39-28 rebound margin. Ryann Goodsell added 11 points and Ke’Vonshaye Stackhouse had 10 points for the Golden Suns.

Kalea King scored a team-high 18 points for the Lady Rangers (12-16, 9-12), who will be the No. 8 seed at the GAC Tournament.

Arkansas Tech led 20-15 after one quarter, but very little went right for the Golden Suns during the second period.

Tech committed 10 turnovers and made two field goals during that 10-minute segment. As a result, Northwestern Oklahoma State closed the half on a 14-0 run over the final 4:32 and went to halftime leading 35-26.

The Lady Rangers led by as many as 12 points early in the third quarter. Arkansas Tech responded by connecting on 5-of-8 3-point shots during the period, the last of which was a Higgins buzzer-beating trey that cut Northwestern’s lead to 48-47 going to the fourth quarter.

Higgins would play hero again at the very end. After a pair of Goodsell layups in the final 1:13 gave the Suns a 68-67 lead, Higgins blocked a Northwestern layup try with 6.5 seconds remaining and corralled the subsequent defensive rebound.

The sophomore from Conway knocked down two free throws to set the final score and send the defending champions back to Bartlesville as the No. 7 seed.

The Golden Suns will conclude their 2018-19 regular season by hosting nationally-ranked Southwestern Oklahoma State University on Saturday, March 2. Tip-off at Tucker Coliseum is set for 1 p.m.

Tickets ($5 adults/$3 students and senior citizens) will be available at the door. Free admission will be granted to those with a valid ATU identification card.

Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and will provide live coverage.