Arkansas Tech sophomore Jessica Weatherford celebrated her 20th birthday on Thursday with the best present she could have received --- a seventh consecutive Golden Suns' victory.
Nationally fifth-ranked Arkansas Tech (21-2 overall, 10-1 Gulf South Conference) shot 68 percent from the field in the second half to run away with a 97-80 win over the Southern Arkansas Lady Muleriders at the W.T. Watson Athletic Center in Magnolia.
The Golden Suns led 42-33 at halftime, but SAU cut its deficit to 46-42 with 16:39 remaining.
Weatherford sparked Tech with a pair of free throws and a 10-foot jumper to make it 50-42 at the 15:23 mark.
All-American Jenny Vining took it from there, scoring seven consecutive Golden Suns' points on a 3-pointer, a fast break layup and two free throws. Tech held a 57-44 edge with 13:14 to go, and it maintained at least an 11-point advantage the rest of the way.
Vining scored 23 of her game-high 25 points after halftime. She was 5-of-6 from 3-point range in the second half.
Tech's Natalia Santos had 21 points and 12 rebounds for her 18th double-double in two years as a Golden Sun.
Laura Beth Anderson notched 16 points, six rebounds, seven assists and three steals, while Weatherford finished with 15 points and six rebounds. Shaquilah Davis scored 13 points as Tech's starting five combined for 90 of the Suns' 97 points.
Cha'Kia Lee led the Lady Muleriders (3-18, 2-9) with 23 points, while Goldie White (15 points) and Shenelda Levingston (14 points) also reached double figures in scoring for SAU.
The Golden Suns will host nationally third-ranked Delta State for a 4 p.m. GSC contest at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville on Saturday, Feb. 19.
Tech and Delta State (22-1, 10-1) are tied for first place in the GSC West Division with three regular season games remaining.
The ticket office will open at 3 p.m. Saturday. Those with a valid Tech identification card will be admitted free.
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