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Wilbers wins 350th game at Tech


RUSSELLVILLE — Arkansas Tech head women's basketball coach Dave Wilbers reached a significant milestone on Thursday night as he won his 350th career game with an impressive 64-54 win at home against nationally-ranked No. 10/16 Northwestern Oklahoma.

All 350 wins of Wilbers' career as a head coach have come at Tech, where he is currently in his 17th season. The milestone win was made even more memorable as it came against a ranked opponent. In that regard, it was the first win over a nationally-ranked opponent for the Golden Suns since the 2019-20 season when they beat then-ranked No. 23 Southeastern Oklahoma, 70-62.

On Thursday, the potential for the upset win was very much a real possibility early on for the second-straight game as the Golden Suns took control of the game in the later part of the first quarter and proceeded to stay in front the remainder of the game.

Aiding the Golden Suns' ability to keep the lead intact was their defense. Coming into the game, the Northwestern Oklahoma was the top-scoring team in the conference at 81.3 ppg and the top-ranked field goal shooting team at 47% overall. On Thursday, the Golden Suns limited the Rangers to just 54 points on 30.5% shooting (18-of-59), holding NWOSU nearly 30 points off their season scoring average and almost 20% worse overall from the field.

What helped that overall defensive effort was tenacity in the passing lanes that led to turning over NWOSU 27 times. That tied for the most turnovers in a game this season by the Rangers and represented the most takeways for the Golden Suns.

Of the 27 forced turnovers, 17 were steals. Maisa Marcal paced the team in that department with six steals and was closely followed by Alex Hill, who came away with five.

While the defense was outstanding for the Golden Suns, their offense was balanced and efficient. As a team, the Golden Suns shot 41% overall from the floor (19-of-46), 31.6% from three-point range (6-of-19) and 76.9% from the free throw line (20-of-26).

Seven different players scored in the game with four scoring in double figures. ClaraGrace Prater led the team in scoring with 14 points. The junior was perfect all around the floor, going 3-of-3 from the floor, 2-of-2 from three-point range and 6-of-6 from the free throw line.

Behind Prater in scoring were Hill, Marcal and Dana Thompson as all three scored 12 points each. Thompson added 13 rebounds to notch her fourth double-double.