Whatzup Sports (333)
NORMAN – It’s another Sooner sweep. For the third time in the last five years, Oklahoma student-athletes have won the Big 12’s top athletic honor. The conference office announced Thursday that Maggie Nichols and Jalen Hurts are the 2019-20 Big 12 Athletes of the Year.
Thirteen Sooners have now been named Big 12 Athlete of the Year in the 24-year history of the league, including a stunning nine in the last eight years. Nichols and former OU football player Baker Mayfield swept the awards for OU in the 2017-18 season and former basketball player Buddy Hield and former softball player Paige Parker were winners in 2015-16.
OU’s other Big 12 Athletes of the Year were Kyler Murray (2018-19; football), Lauren Chamberlain (2014-15; softball), Keilani Ricketts (2012-13; softball), Sam Bradford (2008-09; football), Jason White (2003-04; football), Stacey Dales (2001-02; women's basketball) and Josh Heupel (2000-01; football).
Nominees for this year's Big 12 Athlete of the Year awards were submitted by Big 12 institutions and selected by a media panel based on athletic performance, academic achievement and citizenship. Fan voting conducted via Big12Sports.com also was a consideration in the final tallies.
MAGGIE NICHOLS The 2020 AAI Award winner, Big 12 Gymnast of the Year and Honda Sport Award finalist, Nichols wrapped up her illustrious career with her second Big 12 Athlete of the Year award.
She is the only Sooner to ever repeat as the Big 12 Athlete of the Year and joins Nebraska’s Sarah Pavan (2006-07, 2007-08; volleyball) and Texas’ Cat Osterman (2002-03, 2004-05, 2005-06; softball) as the only repeat winners – male or female – in league history. After the 2017-18 season, Nichols became the first ever gymnast to be named Big 12 Athlete of the Year.
The Little Canada, Minn., native guided the Sooners to 11 consecutive weeks ranked No. 1 nationally and a 16-0 record before the season was suspended due to COVID-19. Nichols was ranked No. 1 on vault and in the all-around, No. 2 on bars, No. 4 on floor and No. 7 on bars, while boasting the top-three all-around scores for the year.
With five perfect 10s in 2020, Nichols finished her career with 22 perfect scores to rank fourth all-time in NCAA history. Against West Virginia and Texas Woman’s University, she notched a perfect 10 on vault and bars to earn multiple perfect scores in the same meet for just the second time in her career. Her most prolific performance came in the home opener over Arkansas as she tallied a perfect score on vault and a 39.900 in the all-around. The mark was her fourth score of 39.900 and was the top score in the nation in 2020. She is the only gymnast in NCAA history with multiple marks of 39.900 or higher in the all-around and boasts the fourth-highest with a 39.925.
Nichols’ list of career accomplishments and accolades is beyond extensive. She is a two-time Big 12 Gymnast of the Year, Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, two-time South Central Region Gymnast of the Year, four-time Honda Sport Award Finalist, Honda Sport Award Winner, NCAA Inspiration Award Winner, Arthur Ashe Courage Award Winner and a six-time NCAA individual champion. She holds the OU record for perfect scores in a career (22), perfect scores in a season (8), individual NCAA championships (6), All-America honors (30), All-Big 12 accolades (17), individual event titles (146), uneven bars titles (35), beam titles (33) and all-around titles (30).
Nichols led the Sooners to a 111-2 record, three undefeated seasons, three Big 12 championships and two national championships over the last four years.
JALEN HURTS In his only season at Oklahoma after transferring from Alabama, the 6-1, 221-pound Hurts was the 2019 Heisman Trophy runner-up after accounting for 53 touchdowns. He threw for 3,851 yards and 32 TDs while rushing for 1,298 yards and 20 scores. He also caught a pass for a touchdown.
The Houston native was a first-team All-Big 12 selection by the league's coaches and media and was the conference's newcomer of the year by AP and offensive newcomer of the year by the coaches. He earned second-team All-America honors from Sporting News and was a third-team All-American by AP. Hurts was also a finalist for the Maxwell Award, Davey O'Brien Award, Manning Award, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award and Senior CLASS Award.
As a Sooner, Hurts led the nation in yards per pass attempt (11.3; FBS record is 11.6) and ranked second in passing efficiency rating (191.2; fourth best in school history), yards per completion (16.3), points responsible for per game (22.9) and touchdowns accounted for. He also ranked third in the country in total offense (367.8 ypg), sixth nationally in completion percentage (.697; third best in school history), seventh in rushing touchdowns (20 was the second most among QBs), eighth in passing yards and 11th in passing touchdowns. He averaged 275.1 passing yards and 92.7 rushing yards per contest.
Hurts compiled 5,149 yards of total offense in 2019 (3,851 passing, 1,298 rushing), good for the second-highest figure in OU history. He set school single-season records for rushing yards by a quarterback and points scored by a QB (126). He also tied the school single-game record for rushing touchdowns by a QB (Jack Mildren also had 20 in 1971).
The senior became the first quarterback since 1981 (Darrell Shepard) to lead OU in scoring and the first since 1988 (Charles Thompson) to lead the Sooners in rushing yards. He was one of just two players nationally since at least 1996 to record 32-plus passing TDs and 18-plus rushing TDs in a season (Florida's Tim Tebow had 32 and 23, respectively, in 2007 when he won the Heisman Trophy) and he became only third FBS player to register at least 3,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards by the 11th game of a season.
In 2019, Hurts also became the only FBS player since at least 1996 to post a passing efficiency rating of 245.0 or better five times in the same season (minimum 15 attempts) and the only player to do so more than three times.
Hurts led OU to a 12-2 record, its fifth straight Big 12 title and its third consecutive College Football Playoff appearance. He was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 21st pick in the second round (53rd overall) of April’s NFL Draft.
- Mike Houck | Assistant AD/Strategic Communications University of Oklahoma Athletics Department
Eastern students honored with 52nd annual Larry Stone Awards
WILBURTON, Okla. – For the past 52 years, Eastern Oklahoma State College has honored the legacy of a former two-sport athlete and Marine lieutenant who died in combat while on patrol in Vietnam. Although this year’s annual athletics award banquet had to be canceled due to the COVDI-19 pandemic, three Eastern student athletes still received awards named after the late Larry Stone of Jay.
Stone played football and baseball at Eastern in the early 1960s and was known for his unselfish attitude and commitment to his team. It is this lasting impression that prompted a group of his former college teammates and classmates to honor his legacy by presenting the annual Larry Stone Award to a male and female student athlete who exemplifies the same characteristics. A memorial scholarship is also awarded to a student-athlete who will return to Eastern for his or her sophomore year.
Eastern sophomores Kendrie Escoe and Christian McGowan were selected for the 2020 Larry Stone Award on the basis of their overall contributions to the spirit of athletics and their demonstration of teamwork, determination, unselfishness and citizenship. Deja Williams received the Larry Stone Memorial Scholarship.
Escoe is a women's soccer player from Bethany, Okla. She graduated in the top 10 percent of her class with a degree in psychology and carried a 3.88 GPA during her time at Eastern. Escoe has committed to continue her academic and athletic career at Oklahoma Wesleyan University.
"Kendrie is known as grandma Ken,” said Head Women’s Soccer Coach Justin McCain. “She's always taking care of everyone. She's just an exemplary student athlete. When someone needs something, they go to Kendrie. I couldn't ask for a better leader on the team.”
McGowan is a baseball player from Bokchito, Okla. He graduated with a degree in general studies and earned a 3.6 GPA. While at Eastern, McGowan earned NJCAA National Pitcher of the Week honors, NJCAA Region 2 Pitcher of the Week honors and turned himself into a professional baseball prospect. McGowan has committed to continue his academic and athletic career at Kansas State University.
“Christian is a great personality that never changed as he had success on the field,” said Head Baseball Coach Matt Parker. “Yes, he was a very good player, but he was an even better teammate.”
Williams is a women's basketball player from Manvel, Texas. She maintained a 3.7 GPA for her freshman year while receiving multiple honors. Williams was twice named the NJCAA Region 2 Player of the Week, First Team All-Region, as well as being named an NJCAA All-American Honorable Mention. She will be receiving the Larry Stone Scholarship as she returns to Eastern next fall.
The Southeastern Conference announced the return of voluntary in-person athletics activities on campuses league-wide beginning June 8 under strict supervision of designated university personnel and safety guidelines developed by each institution.
SEC Release: https://bit.ly/2yqhNvD
Below are statements from Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek, Football Head Coach Sam Pittman, Men’s Basketball Head Coach Eric Musselman and Women’s Basketball Head Coach Mike Neighbors.
Hunter Yurachek – Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics
“I appreciate the leadership and commitment of SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, our conference member institutions and the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force related to returning student-athletes to campus. As we resume on-campus activities, the continued health and well-being of our student-athletes will remain our top priority. I sincerely appreciate the efforts of our Department of Athletics staff and numerous medical professionals across our state, who worked collaboratively to develop a detailed plan in accordance with University, SEC, NCAA and Arkansas Department of Health directives. We are well prepared and look forward to confidently welcoming back many of our student-athletes in the coming weeks.”
Sam Pittman – Football Head Coach
“I’m thankful for all the people that have spent a lot of time and effort in making these decisions this week. The most important part in all of this is the health and well-being of our student-athletes. We are confident in our plan to bring our guys back to campus where our resources are here to help them academically, emotionally and physically. For us as a new staff, we can’t wait to see them and continue to build our trust with one another.”
Eric Musselman – Men’s Basketball Head Coach
“This is an exciting step in our hopes to play sports in the fall. I think it will be great for our student-athletes to be back on campus and have the many services our support staff can give them in terms of academics, medical needs, physical conditioning and mental wellness. While we look forward to seeing our student-athletes back, we know this is still a serious time in this world-wide pandemic. We need to take things slow and we need to follow all the guidelines in order to ensure the health of everyone. That is the only way we can move forward.”
Mike Neighbors – Women’s Basketball Head Coach
“We’ve shared a saying around our program for three years: if you stay ready you never have to get ready!
“Since day one, I’ve used Governor Hutchinson, Commissioner Sankey, Chancellor Stenimetz, and Hunter Yurachek as my Mount Rushmore of information on how to proceed through these challenging times. They have kept us well informed and have built confidence in us all that there is a great plan in place. So if they say we’re ready, we are ready.
“We understand it’s “more proceed with caution” for now rather than “GO”! We will strictly adhere to the guidelines and procedures put in place to keep us safe.
“I can’t wait to see each and every returner and welcome our newcomers!”
For Immediate Release - Contact: Mike Houck - (405) 249-5892
NORMAN — With increased safety and convenience in mind, the University of Oklahoma Athletics Department announced Wednesday it will fully transition to digital ticketing at all of its venues, as well as for football parking.
Although ticket buyers will no longer have the option to print their tickets at home, the new digital system will provide quick and safe ticket delivery of season, mini-plan and single-game tickets and football parking passes via smartphones and the Sooner Sports app.
OU fans have already experienced digital ticketing the last two football seasons at the Big 12 Championship and bowl games.
“We’re sure hopeful that our athletics competitions will occur as scheduled,” said OU Vice President and Athletics Director Joe Castiglione. “But regardless of any timetables, we're extremely excited to introduce digital ticketing at our venues as it will result in several benefits for our fans.
“First, our aim is to limit physical contact between our fans and game day staff as much as possible, and this change is a first step in achieving that goal. We'll announce more of those steps later. The new digital ticketing process will also significantly reduce ticket fraud and loss of tickets, making for an even more seamless venue-entry experience. And fans will enjoy the flexibility of being able to immediately transfer tickets and parking passes to friends or family members.”
Ticket buyers will receive links via the Sooner Sports app or text message, allowing them to download tickets to their Apple Wallet (iPhone) or to Google Pay (Android). Just prior to reaching the venue gates, fans simply pull up the tickets with QR codes on their smartphone screen to show the gate attendant for scanning.
The athletics department still plans to print commemorative tickets that it will make available to fans who are interested.
Fans can visit www.soonersports.com/digitaltickets for an overview of the new digital ticketing procedures and answers to frequently asked questions.
- OU -
Nichols, Hurts Up For Big 12 Athlete of the Year Awards
NORMAN — The Big 12 Conference announced Oklahoma's nominees for the 2019-20 Big 12 Athlete of the Year awards on Wednesday. Women's gymnastics' Maggie Nichols and football's Jalen Hurts will vie for the honors, with the winners announced by the league on May 28.
Fans will be able to vote for their male and female choices from May 22 until May 26 on Big12Sports.com. Fan voting will be considered in the final tally for selecting this prestigious award.
Oklahoma has produced 11 Big 12 Athletes of the Year in the conference's first 23 years, including an amazing seven in the last seven years. Nichols already won following her sophomore year.
OU's Big 12 Athlete of the Year winners have been Kyler Murray (2018-19; football), Baker Mayfield (2017-18; football), Nichols (2017-18; women's gymnastics), Buddy Hield (2015-16; men's basketball), Paige Parker (2015-16; softball), Lauren Chamberlain (2014-15; softball), Keilani Ricketts (2012-13; softball), Sam Bradford (2008-09; football), Jason White (2003-04; football), Stacey Dales (2001-02; women's basketball) and Josh Heupel (2000-01; football).
OU's Big 12 Female Athlete of the Year Candidate
Senior | Little Canada, Minn.
Brief List of Accomplishments
- WCGA All-America First Team selection on all five events (vault, bars, beam, floor, all-around)
- Big 12 Gymnast of the Year and All-Big 12 selection on all five events
- AAU Sullivan Award Semifinalist
- Ranked No. 1 nationally in the all-around and on vault to end the season, while finishing the year ranked No. 2 on the bars
- Registered a season-high 39.900 in the all-around (Jan. 20) and is the only gymnast in NCAA history with multiple marks of 39.900 or higher
OU's Big 12 Male Athlete of the Year Candidate
Senior | Houston, Texas
Brief List of Accomplishments
- Heisman Trophy runner-up
- Garnered All-America status from Sporting News (second team) and Associated Press (third team)
- Earned All-Big 12 First Team status from the league's coaches and media and was conference's newcomer of the year by AP and offensive newcomer of the year by coaches
- Finalist for the Maxwell Award, Davey O'Brien Award, Manning Award, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award and Senior CLASS Award
- Led nation in yards per pass attempt (11.3; FBS record is 11.6) and ranked second in passing efficiency rating (191.2; fourth best in school history), yards per completion (16.3), points responsible for per game (22.9) and touchdowns accounted for (53)
- OU -
NORMAN – Tim Langford, who was named the interim head coach of Oklahoma’s men’s and women’s track and field and cross country programs last August, has formally been named to the position. OU Vice President and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione made the announcement today that the interim tag has been removed from Langford’s title.
“During the interim period, we saw Tim both stabilize and build our program,” Castiglione said. “He led us to positive steps forward during the cross country and indoor track and field season and we are confident that he can continue the forward movement. Tim has been a head coach, has been involved with all facets of running a program and excels in engaging with student-athletes. We’re excited about this appointment and anxious to support Tim and his staff.”
Langford, who formerly served as the head coach at South Carolina State and was nominated last season as the USTFCCCA Midwest Region Indoor Head Coach of the Year, appreciates this opportunity and the leadership he has experienced at OU.
“I feel truly honored to serve the university in this capacity,” Langford said. “I’m grateful for the leadership and vision that Joe Castiglione models for our department. To receive his support in removing the interim head coach tag and to be confirmed as the head coach of this program is priceless.”
Langford’s goals are to produce champions, but not on the track alone.
“My immediate goals are to continue to work with the staff to produce both graduates and champions,” he said. “We will recruit and develop student-athletes in our program that will make a significant impact in the Big 12 Conference and on the national level. Our team has shown resiliency, both during my transition and during this health crisis. The stability of my position will help attract top-tier athletes and provide our returners with peace of mind.”
Langford led the OU men’s and women’s track and field squads to a successful 2020 indoor season, including 49 event victories, two individual Big 12 titles, three school records, four NCAA indoor qualifiers and multiple conference and national accolades.
Under Langford's leadership, OU's men's and women's teams claimed fourth and fifth place, respectively, at the Big 12 Indoor Championships, while senior Jackson Webb (60m dash) and freshman Lavinja Jurgens (high jump) claimed individual Big 12 titles. Jurgens was also named Big 12 Women's Outstanding Freshman of the Year.
Additionally, the 2020 indoor campaign saw school records from freshman Mikeisha Welcome and junior Essence Thomas in the women's triple jump and sophomore Kristo Simulask in the men's heptathlon. Welcome's record outing earned her USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Week honors on Dec. 17, while Thomas earned a pair of Big 12 Athlete of the Week accolades during the season.
Jurgens, Welcome, Thomas and Simulask all qualified for the 2020 NCAA Indoor Championships, but the season was cut short just a day before the Sooners were set to open competition.
Langford knows that the building of a strong foundation requires goals, planning and hard work, but he sees bright days ahead for the program.
“I see loads of opportunity for success in our programs,” he said. “Continuing on our strategic plan and vision to become a national contender is our primary goal. The coaches are committed to attracting the best talent in the world. Our institution is first-class in every way. And with alumni, fan and administrative support, I plan for our programs to be the same.”
At SCSU, Langford helped the Bulldogs produce four NCAA indoor and outdoor All-Americans, 28 regional qualifiers and one NCAA indoor national champion in Tyrell Richard in the 400 meters in 2019. Additionally, he served as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference track coaches' committee vice chair.
A 2000 graduate of Radford University, Langford was an all-conference honoree in the high jump, triple jump, long jump and 4x100- and 4x400-meter relays, as well as a back-to-back Big South conference champion in the high jump in 1998-99.
Following his successful collegiate career, Langford joined the coaching ranks and made stops at High Point University and Charleston Southern. As head men's track and field and cross country coach at Charleston Southern, Langford helped develop nine NCAA Championship qualifiers, three All-Americans and collected four Big South Track Coach of the Year honors. In 2010, he was a nominee for USTFCCCA Southeast Region Indoor Men’s Head Coach of the Year.
Langford’s appointment is pending the approval of the OU Board of Regents.
Submitted by Eric Hollier
NORMAN — Thirteen University of Oklahoma baseball student-athletes were named to the 2020 Academic All-Big 12 Team, the conference office announced Wednesday. The Sooners were represented by five first-team selections and eight second-team honorees.
OU’s 13 Academic All-Big 12 selections are a program record. This marks the seventh consecutive year the Sooners have had at least six Academic All-Big 12 selections. Redshirt freshman pitcher Michael Betrus is one of the league’s three baseball student-athletes with a 4.00 GPA.
Seniors Brady Harlan, Jason Ruffcorn and Braxton Webb, junior Jordan Vujovich and Betrus led the Sooners with first-team honors. Junior pitcher Aaron Brooks was an Academic All-Big 12 selection in 2019.
To qualify, student-athletes must maintain a 3.00 GPA or higher, either cumulative or over the two previous semesters. Freshmen and transfers are not eligible in their first year of academic residence.
First-team members consist of student-athletes who have maintained a 3.20 or better GPA while the second-team selections hold a 3.00 to 3.19 GPA.
Sooners on 2020 Academic All-Big 12 First Team
Michael Betrus R-Fr. Economics Lewisville, Texas
Brady Harlan Gr. Adult and Higher Education Corsicana, Texas
Jason Ruffcorn Sr. Arts & Sciences Planned Program Cedar Park, Texas
Jordan Vujovich R-Jr. Human Relations Sacramento, Calif.
Braxton Webb Sr. Management Info Systems McKinney, Texas
Sooners on 2020 Academic All-Big 12 Second Team
Ben Abram So. Health and Exercise Science Georgetown, Ontario
Braxton Bohrofen R-Fr. Biology Oklahoma City, Okla.
Aaron Brooks Jr. Entrepreneurship and Venture Management/Energy Management Blanchard, Okla.
Jaret Godman So. Sociology Las Vegas, Nev.
Conor McKenna Sr. Arts & Sciences Planned Program Carlsbad, Calif.
Diego Muniz So. Management Rockwall, Texas
Wyatt Olds So. Human Relations McLoud, Okla.
Levi Prater Jr. Communication Ada, Okla.
Press Release submitted by Amy Janes
OATH Jr. eSports League Opens in Oklahoma
Filling a need for youth at home during the pandemic
[OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, May 4] — OATH (Oklahoma AT Home) is Oklahoma's first Youth eSports league catering to students 12 -17 years old. This league focuses on teaching its players integrity in the body and mind, honoring the rules of the league, and respecting all competitors and officials. “There are many players that are stuck at home and not getting the mentorship they need. With schools being closed our kids need something. OATH league is designed to fill that gap and provide a good competitive and safe outlet for our players.” Patrick McClung OATH Founder and Coach for F1rst Team.
In order to participate, the team members must commit to weekly practices, workouts, and balanced meals, while upholding a good school standing and honoring outlined sportsmanship. “I recognize my son's passion for gaming and was looking for a safe and encouraging environment that would allow him to grow successfully in this space. OATH is all that and more!” Amy Janes, parent, OKC.
The current 2020 summer league registration is now open and will be competing in Overwatch. All teams are composed of six individual players. Current coaches are former pro or current college varsity Overwatch players. eSports is one of the fastest growing industries in the world with an estimated revenue of $1.48 billion in 2020. Colleges and universities across the country offer scholarships to their competitive team players. OATH League is harnessing this energy to groom Oklahoma’s future eSports athletes.
“I am so lucky my mom found OATH for me. I have a great team that gets to practice strategy and supports each other.” Finn Janes (12 years old)
Patrick McClung has been gaming since the 80s. He coordinated Halo and FIFA tournaments while in College at NWOSU. Mcclung taught middle school art and Journalism at Yukon Middle school. He currently is Creative Director for Spraycan Creative based in Yukon, OK. Contact him at 405-924-0559 or .
BARTLESVILLE, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State’s First-Team All-GAC tandem of Kevin Buckingham and Adam Dworsky led four Savage Storm players in double figures as the second-seeded Savage Storm eliminated Southern Arkansas, 83-69, in Thursday’s opening Great American Conference Men’s Basketball Championships quarterfinal contest from Bruin Fieldhouse.
Buckingham went 12-for-20 from the field in scoring a game-high 29 points. Late in the second half, he became the second 2,000-point scorer in league history, joining Southern Nazarene’s Jhonathan Dunn. Additionally, he became the fourth in school history to eclipse that milestone - the first since Dennis Rodman in 1986. Dworsky hit 7-of-9 shots in tallying 18 points. He added nine assists.
Kellen Manek and Bobby Johnson also reached double digits for the Savage Storm (23-7). Manek scored 17 and grabbed eight rebounds. Johnson went 5-of-7, including 3-of-4 from the 3-point arc, in scoring 14 points. As a team, the Savage Storm shot 55.4 percent, including 68.2 percent in the second half.
Devante Brooks paced the Muleriders (13-16) with his GAC-leading ninth double-double of the season. He scored a team-high 22 points and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. While Southeastern connected on 10-of-26 3-point tries, SAU went just 4-for-22 from the 3-point arc.
After not winning a GAC quarterfinal game in any of their first four attempts, the Savage Storm have advanced the semifinals for the third-straight year. Southeastern Oklahoma State will play the winner of Friday afternoon’s contest between Henderson State and Arkansas-Monticello at 2:15 PM on Saturday.
In the regular season, the Savage Storm split their meeting with the Reddies as both won on their home courts. Southeastern swept its two matchups with UAM as the Storm prevailed 83-78 at home on January 9 and rallied for a second-half comeback, 73-71, on February 22.
--- WWW.GREATAMERICANCONFERENCE.COM ---
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.