Tech Tidbits: Suns Have Momentum Entering Tourney

Golden Suns Basketball Celebration 2-29-2024
Arkansas Tech University has reached the championship game of its conference tournament in women's basketball 17 times since becoming eligible for NCAA postseason play in 1998.

If given the choice, every basketball coach in the country would prefer for their team to be shining brightest entering March.

That is certainly the case for head coach Dave Wilbers’ Arkansas Tech University Golden Suns.

The Golden Suns (14-12) won five of their final seven regular season games to move all the way up to the No. 5 seed for the Great American Conference Tournament.

Arkansas Tech will face No. 4 seed Henderson State University (17-11) at 5:45 p.m. Friday, March 8, in a GAC Tournament first round game at FireLake Arena in Shawnee, Okla.

If the Golden Suns advance, they would play in the GAC Tournament semifinals at 5:45 p.m. Saturday, March 9. The women’s GAC Tournament championship game is slated for 3:30 p.m. Sunday, March 10. All GAC Tournament games will be played at FireLake Arena.

Live coverage of all ATU games from the GAC Tournament will be available on KCJC 102.3 FM, and the EAB Media Group app.

Defense is the No. 1 reason the Golden Suns have earned their 18th consecutive postseason berth and clinched the 43rd winning season in the 47-year history of intercollegiate women’s basketball at Arkansas Tech.

The Suns are top 20 in NCAA Division II in field goal percentage defense (18th, 35.3 percent), blocked shots (6th, 5.1 per game) and rebound margin (18th, +6.9 rebounds per game) this season.

“We’re really locking down and the players are doing a good job knowing the other team’s personnel,” said Wilbers after a 61-52 victory over Southern Arkansas University in the regular season finale on Saturday. “Coach (Brad) Palmer is doing a great job with scouting reports on individual players. We’re doing a good job of taking away something our opponents are good at.”

Friday’s opening-round game against Henderson State will be a rematch of a contest played last Thursday at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville. The Golden Suns defeated the Reddies 67-66 on that occasion.

The victory over HSU clinched ATU’s berth in the GAC Tournament and gave Wilbers his 355th win at Arkansas Tech, matching the career total accumulated by the legendary Sam Hindsman during his tenure as head men’s basketball coach at Tech from 1947-66.

Only Joe Foley, who guided the ATU women to 456 wins from 1987-2003, has won more games as a head basketball coach at Arkansas Tech.

Foley. Hindsman. Wilbers. It’s some lofty company. It’s company that Coach Wilbers has earned the right to keep over the course of his 17 seasons at Arkansas Tech. And he’s still going.

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.