BARTLESVILLE, Okla. – For the second-straight year at the Great American Conference Women’s Basketball Championships a seventh-seeded Arkansas Tech squad defeated the tournament’s second seed as the Golden Suns overcame and early hole to defeat Harding, 74-72, in Thursday’s opening quarterfinal contest from Bruin Fieldhouse.
The Golden Suns (17-10) spotted the Lady Bisons (19-10) the first 10 points of the game trailed by as many as 12 in the opening quarter. Tech chipped away at that deficit the remainder of the first half and closed with a flourish as Kaley Shipman drained a buzzer-bearing 3-pointer from just inside the half-court line to bring the Golden Suns to within two, 41-39.
Early in the third quarter, another Shipman 3-pointer gave Tech its first lead of the day at 44-42. Neither team led by more than four points the rest of the game. A Shipman jumper with 1:44 left gave Tech a lead, 68-66, it would not relinquish. The Golden Suns converted 6-of-8 free throws down the stretch and prevented Harding from even getting off a last-second shot in time to preserve the victory.
In her first GAC Championship game, the freshman Shipman scored a game-high 23 points. She went 4-for-4 from the 3-point arc. Ke’Vonshaye Stackhouse added a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Jayana Sanders netted 15 points. Tech outrebounded Harding by 14, 52-38.
Three from Harding scored in double figures. Kylee Coulter and Cheyenne Brown led the Lady Bisons with 18 points. Unanimous First-Team All-GAC selection Carissa Caples tallied 17 and four assists.
With the victory, Arkansas Tech advances to the semifinals for the eighth time in nine years. The Golden Suns will take on the winner of Friday’s Southwestern Oklahoma State and Arkansas-Monticello contest at 8:00 PM on Saturday. During the regular season, Arkansas Tech won at home against both the Bulldogs and Blossoms but lost both road games.