Over a span of little more than 48 hours, the Arkansas Tech University women’s basketball team went into the home arenas of the top two teams in the Great American Conference standings and pushed both to the limit.
The scoreboards showed first-place Southern Nazarene University with a 57-54 win over Arkansas Tech on Saturday and second-place Harding University with a 68-64 overtime win over the Golden Suns on Monday, but the defensive commitment and general effort put forth by the ATU women indicated there could be great things in store for the 2022-23 Golden Suns.
“The margin of these games is so small that we have to make little plays,” said Dave Wilbers, ATU head women’s basketball coach. “There’s a loose ball…we have to get it. We have to make free throws. The margin of error is so small because the games are so close. If we keep playing hard and keep playing defense like that, something good will happen to us.”
The Golden Suns (13-9 overall, 11-7 GAC) are in third place in the league standings with four games remaining in the regular season. ATU’s women have clinched a berth in the GAC Tournament, which will be played March 2-5 at Firelake Arena in Shawnee, Okla.
The Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys (12-12, 10-8) still have work to do to secure their first earned berth in the GAC Tournament since 2018. ATU’s men are in fourth place, but with six losses in their last seven games they must right the ship soon in order to finish inside the top eight and advance to Shawnee.
“Toughness,” said Mark Downey, ATU head men’s basketball coach, when asked what it will take to get that done. “We’ve shown some spurts this year when we were really tough, but even our tough guys weren’t tough (Monday in a 91-67 loss at Harding). We have to be able to play through fatigue and play through nagging injuries. We have to find some toughness. We have to grow up and be men.”
Arkansas Tech will host Northwestern Oklahoma State University at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, and Southwestern Oklahoma State University at 1 and 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18. Tickets are available at www.arkansastechsports.com/tickets.
Live coverage will be available on KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com.
Talk to you on the radio.
Tech Tidbits is a column written by Sam Strasner, ATU director of university relations and radio play-by-play voice for ATU football and basketball.