Six head coaches, hundreds of student-athletes and thousands of fans have made the name Golden Suns synonymous with basketball excellence during the 33-year history of Arkansas Tech women’s hoops.
On Saturday, Arkansas Tech will try to add to its women’s basketball legend when the Golden Suns go for all-time win No. 800.
Nationally 24th-ranked Arkansas Tech (11-0) will take on Northwest Missouri State (6-5) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Bearcat Arena in Maryville, Mo.
A broadcast of the game will be available on KWKK 100.9 FM and at www.athletics.atu.edu.
Only two NCAA Division II women’s basketball programs — Delta State University (Miss.) and Bentley College (Mass.) — have ever reached the 800-win plateau.
Arkansas Tech is attempting to become the third member of that club during a season that has already seen the Golden Suns make history. Tech is 11-0 for the first time since 1979-80 and for just the third time ever in women’s basketball.
The Suns are now 799-217 all-time. That is a .786 winning percentage, fourth-best in NCAA Division II women’s basketball history.
Junior guard Jenny Vining (20.3 points, 5.4 assists per game) and sophomore forward Natalia Santos (14 points, 6.5 rebounds per game) have led the Golden Suns to their longest winning streak since they reeled off 16 straight victories in 2007-08.
Northwest Missouri State already owns one upset win over a nationally-ranked foe this season. The Bearcats defeated then fifth-ranked Emporia State 88-76 on Dec. 2 behind 20 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots by 6-foot-2 post Gentry Dietz.
A transfer from Southern Illinois, Dietz is averaging 16.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
“She is the best post player we will have faced up to this point in the season,” said Tech head coach Dave Wilbers when asked about Dietz. “This will be a tough road trip for us. I like to play at least one really tough road game during non-conference play to get us ready for the Gulf South Conference, and this will provide us with that test.”
Saturday will mark just the second all-time meeting between Arkansas Tech and Northwest Missouri State in women’s basketball.
The Golden Suns won the previous meeting 87-68 on Dec. 8, 2007, behind 34 points and 12 rebounds from All-American Amanda Grappe. Grappe currently serves as a graduate assistant coach for the Suns.
After visiting Maryville, Mo., the Suns will trek on to Weatherford, Okla., for a contest against Southwestern Oklahoma State at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. The broadcast of that game will also be available on KWKK 100.9 FM and www.athletics.atu.edu.