Arkansas Tech wins GSC title
SOUTHAVEN, Mississippi – Arkansas Tech used solid defense and 32-of-36 shooting from the free-throw line Sunday afternoon to post a 73-62 win against third-ranked Delta State and claim its second consecutive Gulf South Conference title at the DeSoto County Civic Center.
The win, which improved Tech to 27-2 on the season, earned the No. 2 ranked Golden Suns its fourth GSC Women’s Basketball title since joining the league in 1996. DSU falls to 26-3 overall on the season.
“I thought we played tremendous defense today. To hold DSU to 42 percent shooting from the field and force 24 turnovers is incredible,” Golden Suns head coach Dave Wilbers said. “I am happy that we were able to win our second straight GSC title.”
Tech’s victory was aided by a season-high 25 turnovers by the Lady Statesmen, including committing 15 turnovers in the first half. The Golden Suns held a 31-13 edge in points off turnovers.
“The turnovers played a huge role in the game,” the Tech coach added. “We did a solid job on defense as a unit.”
Tech, who led 28-23 at the half, used a 9-1 run after the Lady Statesmen had taken a 43-40 lead on a three-pointer by Moe Bell to push out in front 49-44 with 7:16 left in the game. DSU would pull within 53-51 following another trey by Bell with 5:29 remaining. Bell finished the game with 15 points, all of which came on five 3-pointers in the second half.
“We knew that Moe Bell would hit some shots today, but I thought LB (Laura Beth Anderson) did a great job on Bug Cooper,” Wilbers said. Cooper, DSU’s All-American point guard, was held scoreless and committed four turnovers, while dishing out 11 assists.
That would be as close as DSU would get as sophomore forward Jessica Weatherford scored on a lay-up to begin a 6-2 run by the Golden Suns that extended its lead to 61-53 with 2:06 remaining. The Golden Suns closed out the game hitting 10 consecutive free throws to seal its victory and run its win streak to 13. Senior guard Laura Beth Anderson was 6-for-6 at the line during that stretch.
“It was a high level today between two very good teams,” said the fourth-year Tech coach, who has now led the Golden Suns to 5-2 record since the beginning of last season against the Lady Statesmen.
Anderson, who was one of three Golden Suns that were named to the All-Tournament Team, continued her hot offensive play as she tallied 22 points and six rebounds and finished 10-for-10 at the free throw line. In addition to Anderson, senior All-American guard Jenny Vining added 19 points, including going 10-for-10 at the charity stripe, en route to being named the GSC Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, while junior forward Natalia Santos, who was the third Golden Sun that was named to the All-Tournament Team, scored 16 points and had six boards.
For the game, Tech was outshot, 42 to 40 percent and outrebounded, 34-30, but blocked five shots and collected 14 steals. DSU shot 47 percent from the 3-point line and 64 percent (7-for-11) from the foul line.
Veronica Walker, who was the only Lady Statesmen named to the All-Tournament Team, led the way with 17 points and 11 rebounds for her league-leading 17th double-double and she had six turnovers, while Sheena Johnson added 12 points, but had five turnovers.
Joining Vining, Santos, Anderson and Walker on the All-Tournament Team was Ouachita Baptist guard A’Laeshia Adams and Harding guard Bailey St. Clair.