BARTLESVILLE, Okla. – Southwestern Oklahoma State captured the 2019 Great American Conference Women’s Basketball Championship crown with an 87-66 victory against Arkansas Tech on Sunday from the Bruin Fieldhouse.
The Lady Bulldogs (30-1) never trailed in the contest in winning their 30th-straight game. They join the 2016-17 Harding Lady Bison squad that advanced to NCAA Division II Elite 8 as the only two GAC programs to win 30 games in a season.
Despite never leading, Arkansas Tech (15-16) drew even with SWOSU late in the first half. The Lady Bulldogs responded with five points in the final 15 seconds when Tyra Aska converted a layup off of a turnover and Taber Beer nailed 3-pointer from the top of the key.
In the second half, the Southwestern Oklahoma State defense clamped down on the Golden Suns. After shooting an even 50.0 percent in the first half, Tech went just 8-for-29 in the second half, a 27.6 percent clip.
Aska carried the Lady Bulldog offense as she scored game-high 25 points on 8-of-12 shooting. She went 4-for-5 from the 3-point arc. She also grabbed 13 rebounds and handed out five assists. Bethany Franks scored 10 of her 12 points in the first half. GAC Player of the Year Hayden Priddy added 12 while Taylor Hedrick and Maddie Sperle each scored 11. Hailey Tucker matched Aska with 13 rebounds. Southwestern Oklahoma State outrebounded Arkansas Tech by a 43-31 margin.
Jacie Higgins and Hannah Villines, the GAC Newcomer of the Year, led the Golden Suns with 14 points. Jayana Sanders added 13 and six assists.
Franks earned Tournament MVP honors after she averaged 12.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 4.7 steals during the weekend. She shot a team-leading 51.5 percent from the field. Priddy, Aska and Tucker also represented SWOSU on the All-Tournament Team. Sanders and Williams made the team from Arkansas Tech along with Southern Nazarene’s Adrienne Berry and Harding’s Carissa Caples.
The title, the third in eight years for the Lady Bulldogs (30-1), forged a tie with the Golden Suns for the most in GAC history. The win represented the first win in four tries for Southwestern Oklahoma State against Arkansas Tech at the GAC Championships.
The combined 20 points for Tucker and Priddy gave the duo exactly 4,000 combined points in their career. No other active pair of Division II teammates has as many points as the two senior guards.
The Lady Bulldogs will learn their seed and destination for the upcoming NCAA Division II Championships during tonight’s selection show. It streams on NCAA.com at 9:00 p.m.