Coming into the 2022-23 season, there was no doubt the Arkansas Tech University women’s basketball team would lean heavily upon the trio of Jalei Oglesby, Kaley Shipman and Alex Hill for offensive production.
All three came through in a big way to help the Golden Suns go 2-0 during last week’s road trip to Oklahoma.
As a result, Arkansas Tech’s women (11-6 overall, 9-4 Great American Conference) remain in the thick of the GAC women’s basketball race with nine regular season games remaining, including a two-game homestand that begins Thursday, Feb. 2, at Tucker Coliseum.
Oglesby scored a season-high 31 points and collected 11 rebounds in ATU’s 79-72 win at Southwestern Oklahoma State University last Thursday. It was her fourth double-double in the last three weeks.
“It was probably the quietest 31 I’ve ever seen,” said Dave Wilbers, ATU head women’s basketball coach. “She went and got some baskets when we needed one, and we hit some big free throws. We said we needed to do two things if we were going to get better. One is getting more movement in our offense, which I thought we did most of the game. The other thing was getting off to a good start to the third quarter, and we did that.”
Two days later, the Golden Suns defeated Northwestern Oklahoma State University 63-56 in Alva. Hill scored 11 of her 17 points in the final 6:12 of the game.
“I liked (Hill) being so aggressive,” said Wilbers. “She did it in a lot of different ways. She hit a couple of shots, she drove in nice and she made some really good feeds down to Dana (Thompson), and Dana finished some shots. It was fantastic execution the last four or five minutes of the game.”
Those drives were set up by NWOSU defensive adjustments, which were forced by Shipman’s 3-point shooting. She made a season-high five 3-pointers — pushing her career total to 147 made 3-pointers — and scored 19 points.
“That’s what the 3-point shot does,” said Wilbers. “Even though our 3-point percentage is a little bit low compared to the conference, we’re a really good zone offensive team. We attack gaps, we get into the right spots and we make good passes. When Kaley and Alex hit shots like that, it extends the zone.”
ATU’s defense limited Northwestern Oklahoma State to 33 percent shooting from the floor. The Golden Suns improved to 9-1 this season when holding their opponents below 40 percent field goal shooting.
“The key was knowing Coach (Brad) Palmer’s scouting report,” said Wilbers. “He came up with a great tape and the girls did a really good job. They knew who could shoot, the areas they could shoot from and I thought, for the most part, we had a hand in their face all day long.”
The dusty plains of Oklahoma were not as kind to the Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys, who suffered a 79-71 overtime loss at Southwestern Oklahoma State last Thursday and an 85-70 setback at Northwestern Oklahoma State on Saturday. ATU was within two points of the lead with three minutes left at NWOSU.
Despite the losses, ATU’s men (11-8, 9-4) are tied for third place in the GAC men’s basketball standings as they enter the final four weeks of the regular season.
“There are a lot of games left…it’s just frustrating,” said Mark Downey, ATU head men’s basketball coach. “I am proud of the fight our guys showed (on Saturday). We have to go back to work. We’ll get back to it. This group has to get better and get tighter. We’ll be okay.”
ATU will host East Central University at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, and Southeastern Oklahoma State University at 1 and 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, at Tucker Coliseum. Tickets are available at www.arkansastechsports.com/tickets.
Thursday’s doubleheader will coincide with the observance of Wonder Week by ATU Student Government Association and ATU Student Activities Board. A variety of student-oriented games with prizes will take place during media timeouts and at halftime.
Live coverage of all four games 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.