Suns, OBU Set for Key GSC West Contest

It would be hard to blame Arkansas Tech senior guard Jenny Vining if she admitted that Saturday’s game at Ouachita Baptist is a little bit special. The All-American from Marshall will play her final regular season game in the gymnasium named for her grandfather when the nationally fifth-ranked Golden Suns (15-2 overall, 4-1 GSC) take on the OBU Lady Tigers (14-4, 5-1) at Vining Arena in Arkadelphia. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. The game can be heard in the Arkansas River Valley on radio station KWKK 100.9 FM.

Click here to access an Internet stream of the broadcast.

Bill Vining coached the men’s basketball program at Ouachita Baptist for 33 seasons before retiring in 1989. He led the Tigers to 26 winning seasons, 520 wins, six Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference titles and six NAIA National Tournament berths. He is a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, the NAIA Hall of Fame and the OBU Hall of Fame. About the same time that his coaching career was ending, Coach Vining welcomed a granddaughter into the world.

She grew up to become one of the most sought-after basketball recruits in America during her senior year at Marshall High School, and she signed a letter of intent to play basketball at the University of Oklahoma.

Jenny Vining helped the Sooners win 54 games, capture a Big 12 Conference regular season title and earn a berth in the NCAA Final Four during two years with the program, but at the close of her sophomore year she was ready to come home to Arkansas.

She chose Arkansas Tech, and since the recruiting class that included her, Laura Beth Anderson, Shaquilah Davis, Katie Horsman, Samanta Ludwig, Sarah Martin, Natalia Santos and Jessica Weatherford arrived on campus, the Golden Suns have won 46 games and lost just five.

“It will be an emotional day for Jenny,” said Arkansas Tech head coach Dave Wilbers. “It is a great and well-deserved honor for Coach Vining to have his name on that facility. We were blessed to get Jenny here at Arkansas Tech. She’s a great leader for us, and her will to win is something that has carried over to her teammates. I see a drive in her eyes right now.” Santos scored 23 points and Vining (photographed) added 17 points on Thursday in a 77-67 Golden Suns’ victory over Harding. It was Arkansas Tech’s 28th consecutive home win.

Ouachita Baptist has won four straight games, including an 83-70 triumph in the Battle of the Ravine at Henderson State on Thursday. Beulah Osueke led the Lady Tigers to victory with 21 points and 12 rebounds.

Osueke (9.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game) has provided OBU with a post presence this season, but the key to the Lady Tigers remains the same as it was last year and the year before that — the three-headed perimeter attack of A’Laeshia Adams (16.3 points per game), Gabby Coleman (13.2 points per game) and Domino Miller (10.6 points per game).

Their play helped Ouachita Baptist reach the Sweet 16 of the 2009 NCAA Division II Tournament. After a disappointing 2009-10 season that saw them miss the GSC Tournament, the Lady Tigers are back in the hunt for a postseason berth in 2011.

“They are really tough to guard because all three of them (Adams, Coleman and Miller) have range beyond the 3-point line and all three of them can drive and finish in the paint,” said Wilbers. “They have a lot of experience, and they are healthy this year. They had a lot of injuries in their program a year ago. It’s a tough place to play, and it will be a big challenge.”

Arkansas Tech has won seven consecutive women’s basketball games against Ouachita Baptist, and the Golden Suns are 9-1 in the last 10 meetings between the two programs. Tech is 51-14 all-time against OBU in women’s basketball.