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First Place Within Golden Suns' Grasp

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Arkansas Tech will go for a share of the lead in the Gulf South Conference West Division women’s basketball standings when the Golden Suns entertain the Southern Arkansas Lady Muleriders on Saturday, Feb. 5. Tip-off at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville is set for 4 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door. Those with a valid Tech identification card will be admitted free. The nationally fifth-ranked Golden Suns (17-2 overall, 6-1 GSC) sit one-half game behind Delta State (19-1, 7-1) in the GSC West standings.

The Lady Statesmen will be idle on Saturday, so a win over the Lady Muleriders would allow Arkansas Tech to forge a tie atop the league standings with six conference games remaining.

The Golden Suns will also be aiming for history on Saturday. Arkansas Tech won its 29th consecutive home women’s basketball game with a 70-49 victory over Henderson State on Thursday.

The current streak, which started on Feb. 26, 2009, matches the third-longest home winning streak in Arkansas Tech women’s basketball history.

A win over Southern Arkansas would allow the current crop of Golden Suns to place their success at Tucker Coliseum alongside two legendary streaks.

The longest home winning streak ever accumulated by the Arkansas Tech women’s basketball program was a 61-game streak from Jan. 17, 1987, to Jan. 28, 1991.

All-Americans such as Donna Brunson, Lanell Dawson, Cindi Patton, Kala Cooley and Amanda Hill all contributed to a string of wins that established a state record for consecutive home wins by a college basketball team.

More recently there was a 35-game home winning streak from Jan. 11, 1993, to March 8, 1995. All-Americans Stephanie Strack, Alison Setliff, Dawn Grell, Carin Pinion, Kim Stephens, Heather Campbell and Jennifer Richardson had a hand in the second-longest home winning streak in Golden Suns’ history.

And now, a new generation of Arkansas Tech women’s basketball players has an opportunity to establish the third streak of 30 or more consecutive home wins in the remarkable 34-year history of the Golden Suns.

Southern Arkansas is the hurdle between Tech and 30 straight wins at Tucker Coliseum, and at first glance it might not appear to be a very tall hurdle.

The Lady Muleriders (3-14, 2-5) rank last in the GSC in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense. They are coming off an 87-40 home loss to Delta State on Thursday. Their three wins came against teams that have a combined record of 16-41 this season, and they have yet to defeat a team with a winning record.

Add in the fact that Southern Arkansas has only defeated the Golden Suns in Russellville once since 1982, and it would not be difficult to install Arkansas Tech as the favorite on Saturday. But for all their struggles, the Lady Muleriders still feature the talents of three of the most dynamic scorers in the GSC --- senior forward Cha’Kia Lee (15.6 points per game), junior center Kmaria Hobbs (11.2 points per game) and senior guard Goldie White (10.8 points per game). White and Hobbs have both been named All-GSC West Division in years past.

“When you talk about Goldie White, you are talking about someone who can go for 30-plus points,” said Arkansas Tech head coach Dave Wilbers. “Lee is a tall guard who can shoot over the top of people. She gave us a lot of trouble last year, especially out of our zone. And then Hobbs gives them a big, strong low post player with a lot of moves. They’re going to beat some people this year, and they’re road tested.”

Russellville radio station KWKK 100.9 FM will broadcast Saturday’s game. There will be live video and live audio feeds from the game available at www.athletics.atu.edu.

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