SWOSU Tops Suns in Regular Season Finale

Nationally 10th-ranked Southwestern Oklahoma State University completed its historic run through Great American Conference women’s basketball during the 2018-19 season on Saturday by defeating Arkansas Tech University 84-68 at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville.

The Lady Bulldogs (27-1 overall, 22-0 GAC) became the first team, men’s or women’s, in the eight-year history of the GAC to go through the double round-robin league schedule undefeated.

SWOSU also joined Henderson State University, the University of Central Arkansas and Delta State University as the only programs to ever defeat the Golden Suns in a regular season game at Tucker Coliseum three consecutive seasons.

The Lady Bulldogs did it behind their defense. They forced Arkansas Tech (13-15, 10-12) into 19 turnovers and finished with a 22-4 edge in points off turnovers.

“It’s evident it was a factor for every team in the GAC this year,” said Dave Wilbers, ATU head coach, when asked about SWOSU’s pressure defense. “Their depth wears you down, and we fouled a lot. We did some good things, but we missed too many free throws in the first half. That hurt us a lot.”

The Golden Suns were 7-of-14 (50 percent) at the free throw line during the opening two quarters and 12-of-21 (57 percent) overall.

The Lady Bulldogs led 24-16 after one quarter and 40-34 at halftime. SWOSU outscored ATU 8-3 over the final 2:12 of the third quarter to claim a 62-52 edge going to the final period. The margin did not dip below nine points during the final 10 minutes.

Five SWOSU players reached double figures in scoring, led by Hayden Priddy with 18 points. Hailey Tucker (17 points and 10 rebounds), Tyra Aska (16 points and 11 rebounds) and Bethany Franks (12 points and 10 rebounds) all had double-doubles for the Lady Bulldogs.

Southwestern’s Maddie Sperle added 13 points off the bench.

Tech’s Hannah Villines matched her career high with 26 points. She was 10-of-16 from the field.

Jayana Sanders added 14 points and Jacie Higgins contributed 10 points, six rebounds and five assists for ATU.

The Golden Suns will face No. 2 seed East Central University (21-7, 16-6) in the first round of the GAC Tournament at Bruin Fieldhouse in Bartlesville, Okla., on Thursday, March 7. Tip-off is scheduled for noon.