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Suns Favored to Win GAC Basketball Crown

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Arkansas Tech University has dominated women's basketball in each conference it has competed in --- from the Arkansas Women's Intercollegiate Sports Association to the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference to the Gulf South Conference.

Great American Conference head coaches expect the Golden Suns' winning tradition to continue in year one of the new NCAA Division II league.

Arkansas Tech is the favorite to win the 2011-12 GAC women's basketball title in a preseason poll of league head coaches. The Golden Suns earned eight first-place votes and a total of 64 points in the balloting.

Ouachita Baptist (2nd, 53 points), Southeastern Oklahoma State (3rd, 51 points), Harding (4th, 45 points), Henderson State (5th, 34 points), East Central (6th, 26 points), Southwestern Oklahoma State (7th, 24 points), Arkansas-Monticello (8th, 16 points) and Southern Arkansas (9th, 11 points) complete the first GAC women's basketball preseason poll.

The Golden Suns return two starters --- All-America forward Natalia Santos (photographed, right) and all-conference forward Jessica Weatherford (photographed, left) --- from a team that was 30-3 overall a year ago. Arkansas Tech won the GSC West Division title, the GSC Tournament championship and the NCAA Division II South Region crown in 2010-11.

A new season brings a new conference, a new region (NCAA Division II South Central) and a new backcourt. Lost to graduation are the trio of Laura Beth Anderson, Shaquilah Davis and All-American Jenny Vining.

Six of the seven newcomers on the Arkansas Tech roster are guards, including University of Houston transfer Breana Williams and junior college transfers Lily Abreu, Joseane Maria Bazillo and Roselis Silva.

Those newcomers are now part of a Golden Suns basketball tradition that includes two NAIA national championships (1992 and 1993), one NCAA Division II national runner-up finish (1999), four NCAA Division II South Region championships (1998, 1999, 2009 and 2010) and 21 regular season conference titles.

The Golden Suns rank among the top three programs in NCAA Division II women's basketball history in terms of all-time winning percentage (.792) and all-time wins (849).

Click here to learn more about Arkansas Tech women's basketball.