The Ouachita Baptist University Lady Tigers qualified for the Great American Conference Championship as they defeated the Southern Arkansas University Lady Muleriders 98-83 in Bill Vining Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Ouachita (14-14, 10-12 GAC) had the lead for the majority of the game, but SAU (9-19, 8-14 GAC) led for most of the first quarter, including a seven-point margin at one point. By halftime, though, Ouachita had a 12-point lead on Southern Arkansas, ending the first half 46-24. For the remainder of the game, Southern Arkansas never regained the lead and Ouachita came out with the win.
“We played with a ton of energy tonight and the score showed it,” said Ouachita player Madison Brittain. “I know all of us wanted to go out with a bang for our seniors and I’m so glad we did.”
Brittain was the high scorer for the Lady Tigers with 24 points. Not far behind her was starter Morgan Miller, who made three out of the five 3-point shots, four field goals and two free throws scoring a total of 19 points for Ouachita. Olivia McWilliams and Kimberly Crown were the leading scorers for the Lady Muleriders, with a combined total of 42 points. Crown 7-8 at the free-throw line.
In the first quarter, Southern Arkansas scored the first field goal to take an early lead. Ouachita starter Alivia Huell immediately made a field goal, tying the score 2-2. With 3:29 left in the first quarter, Southern Arkansas climbed to a seven-point lead on Ouachita at 16-9. Huell then made three field goals, catching Ouachita up to 16-15 with 1:54 left in the first quarter. After going back and forth, Ouachita starter Maija Gertson makes the last shot in the first quarter to give Ouachita the lead 20-18.
To start off the second quarter, Crown made a shot for Southern Arkansas to tie the score at 20-20. Brittain then made a 3-point shot, but not long after, McWilliams also hit a 3-point shot, stopping Ouachita from taking the lead. That didn’t last for long, though. Ouachita made multiple 3-point shots and field goals, ending the first half with Ouachita in the lead 46-34.
In the second half, Ouachita kept the lead for the entire third and fourth quarter. Ouachita player Shakyla Begnaud had multiple steals for the Lady Tigers. Although Southern Arkansas starter Ramiah Henry made a 3-point shot with ten seconds left in the game, it wasn’t enough.
The Ouachita Lady Tigers will compete in the GAC Championship beginning on Thursday inside Bruin Fieldhouse in Bartlesville, Okla.
By Jessica Williamson, guest writer