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100 and Counting: Tech Visits SAU Thursday

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There are 100 reasons to jump on the Arkansas Tech basketball bandwagon. The Golden Suns and the Wonder Boys, who have combined to win 100 games over the past two basketball seasons, will continue their pursuits of Gulf South Conference West Division titles on Thursday, Feb. 17, with a doubleheader at Southern Arkansas University. The nationally fifth-ranked Golden Suns (20-2 overall, 9-1 GSC) and the SAU Lady Muleriders (3-17, 2-8) will play at 5:30 p.m., followed by the nationally 12th-ranked Wonder Boys (19-3, 10-0) and the SAU Muleriders (9-13, 1-9) at 7:30 p.m. Both games will be played at the W.T. Watson Athletic Center in Magnolia, and both will be broadcast in the Arkansas River Valley by KWKK 100.9 FM.

Click here to access an Internet stream of the broadcast.

Arkansas Tech continued its historic two-year run on Monday by sweeping Christian Brothers. The Golden Suns earned their 31st consecutive home win by defeating the CBU Lady Buccaneers 103-32, while the Wonder Boys ran their overall winning streak to 13 games with a 67-52 triumph over the CBU Buccaneers. With those wins, Arkansas Tech’s combined record for its men’s and women’s basketball teams since the start of the 2009-10 season is now 100-10. Arkansas Tech is one of just three NCAA Division II institutions --- the others are Rollins College (Fla.) and Tarleton State (Texas) --- that are ranked in both the men’s and women’s national polls this week. “We have two good teams and we both have good styles that are fun to watch,” said Golden Suns head coach Dave Wilbers, who is 96-20 in four years at Arkansas Tech. “It’s been a great run and it’s been a lot of fun. One thing that I always think about is when we go on the road it’s always a tough environment because we’ve been nationally-ranked and our men have been really good. These back-to-back seasons are something we’ll think about and remember fondly in the years to come.” Doug Karleskint, who is in his first year as head coach for the Wonder Boys after serving as the top assistant for Tech’s men in 2009-10, is equally grateful for the opportunity to be part of history. “When you think about what the women’s program has done and what we’ve been able to do, it’s unbelievable,” said Karleskint. “It’s a tribute to the kids we have. They are high character kids who are willing to play hard every night. I hope people don’t take it for granted. There’s a lot of work that goes into it, starting with the university administration to the people at Tucker Coliseum and all the way down. I know the community recognizes it, and I know they’ll continue to give us great support.” The Golden Suns enter Thursday’s game tied with nationally third-ranked Delta State (21-1, 9-1) for first place in the GSC West Division. Arkansas Tech has won five consecutive women’s games and 15 of its last 16. The Wonder Boys are in sole possession of first place in the GSC West men’s race, one game in front of the nationally 16th-ranked Harding Bisons (19-3, 9-1). Both Arkansas Tech teams will go for a season sweep of Southern Arkansas on Thursday. Tech’s women defeated the Lady Muleriders 95-71 and the Wonder Boys overcame a six-point halftime deficit to beat SAU 68-47 in a doubleheader on Feb. 5. The Golden Suns are led by junior forward Natalia Santos (17.6 points, 7.7 rebounds per game), senior guard Jenny Vining (14.0 points, 3.7 assists per game) and sophomore forward Jessica Weatherford (12.7 points, 7.0 rebounds per game). Santos is sixth in NCAA Division II women’s basketball in field goal percentage (59.5 percent). Vining ranks among the NCAA Division II leaders in 3-point field goals made (9th, 3.0 per game) and 3-point field goal percentage (10th, 45.7 percent). Senior point guard Laura Beth Anderson is 10th in NCAA Division II in assists (5.6 per game) and ninth in the country in free throw shooting (87.5 percent). Weatherford shoots 87.3 percent from the free throw line, 10th-best in the nation. The Wonder Boys’ top scorers are junior guard Johnie Davis (15.9 points per game) and senior forward Jeremy Dunbar (13.6 points per game). Arkansas Tech senior forward James Causey adds 10.7 points per contest, and he ranks fifth in NCAA Division II in steals (3.0 per game). Senior point guard Laithe Massey is near the top of D-II in steals (7th, 2.7 per game) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3rd, 3.39-to-1). After visiting SAU, the Arkansas Tech basketball teams will return home to host Delta State University for a GSC doubleheader at Tucker Coliseum on Saturday, Feb. 19. The two winningest women’s basketball programs in NCAA Division II history will meet in the opener at 4 p.m., while the Wonder Boys will seek their fifth straight win over the DSU Statesmen at 6 p.m.

The Tucker Coliseum ticket office will open at 3 p.m. Saturday.

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