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Suns Hope it is Their Turn to Celebrate

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In each of the last three seasons, Delta State has clinched the Gulf South Conference West Division women’s basketball championship with a win over Arkansas Tech.
 
The Golden Suns would love to be the ones celebrating this time around.
 
Nationally fifth-ranked Arkansas Tech (23-1 overall, 10-1 GSC) will try to clinch a share of the GSC West Division title and a No. 1 seed in the GSC Tournament by defeating the nationally 12th-ranked Delta State Lady Statesmen (20-2, 9-2) on Saturday.
 
Tip-off at Walter Sillers Coliseum in Cleveland, Miss., is set for 4 p.m. Russellville radio station KWKK 100.9 FM and www.athletics.atu.edu will have live play-by-play coverage.
 
Arkansas Tech is in pursuit of its seventh GSC West Division women’s basketball title, but its first since 2003.
 
“(Delta State) is one of the top teams in the country,” said Tech head coach Dave Wilbers. “It’s just going to be a great college basketball game. This is what it’s all about. You’re playing for a conference championship. This is why you come to Arkansas Tech --- to play for championships and to play in big-time atmospheres.”
 
The Lady Statesmen, who in all have won four straight GSC West titles, will not let go of their crown lightly. Delta State has won 46 consecutive games at Walter Sillers Coliseum.

The Golden Suns have not defeated the Lady Statesmen in Cleveland since March 1, 2003.

Tech’s women had not defeated Delta State anywhere since Jan. 29, 2005, but that changed last month when the Suns beat the Lady Statesmen 56-47 in Russellville. Tech held DSU without a made field goal for the final six minutes and 35 seconds.

The loss snapped Delta State’s 12-game winning streak against the Golden Suns.
 
One of the keys to victory was Tech’s ability to cut off dribble penetration by DSU junior point guard Sarita “Bug” Cooper. That turned her into a jump shooter, and she went 2-for-17 from the field.
 
Wilbers said that stopping Cooper’s drive will be a critical factor again on Saturday, but he said there is another equally important element in competing against Delta State.

“Bug Cooper is one of the best point guards in the country and Veronica Walker is one of the best post players in the country,” said Wilbers. “We’ve got to contain (Cooper’s) dribble and then find their shooter (Moe Bell). The key to playing Delta State is always that you have to rebound with them. I’m not necessarily saying that you have to out-rebound them, but you have to rebound with them.”

The Suns maintained their one-game lead over Delta State with a 92-72 win against Ouachita Baptist on Thursday. Tech sophomore forward Katie Horsman of Fairfield Bay (photographed) scored a career-high 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

“What makes Katie so good is she is an excellent 3-point shooter, and then she can also play around the basket,” said Wilbers. “She’s one of our better high post players because she can take the ball off the dribble and shoot it. Katie’s been practicing really well all week, and you could just see in her eyes that she was going to have a big game.”

If the Golden Suns can have a big game on Saturday at Delta State, it will be time to hang yet another women’s basketball banner in Tucker Coliseum.

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