Arkansas Tech will begin a tough stretch of three straight games against women’s basketball programs that played in the 2009 NCAA Division II Tournament when the nationally ninth-ranked Golden Suns visit the Ouachita Baptist Lady Tigers on Thursday night.
Tip-off at Bill Vining Arena in Arkadelphia is set for 6 p.m. Thursday. Russellville radio station KWKK 100.9 FM and www.athletics.atu.edu will have live play-by-play coverage.
Arkansas Tech (16-0 overall, 3-0 Gulf South Conference) has won 14 of its 16 games this season by double figures, and the Golden Suns’ average margin of victory is 26.4 points.
But Tech’s women have not been tested like they will be over the next week. Thursday’s trip to Ouachita is followed by back-to-back home games against nationally second-ranked Delta State on Saturday and Arkansas-Monticello on Thursday, Jan. 28.
OBU, DSU and UAM all won at least one game in the NCAA Tournament last year. Ouachita went all the way to the NCAA South Region title game. Delta State made its second straight appearance in the NCAA Final Four.
“I think when we started looking at our league schedule we knew this was going to be the tough run in our conference,” said Tech head coach Dave Wilbers. “OBU, Delta and UAM are three outstanding teams with a lot of experience back. But I think our team has been playing well, and we’ve been pretty consistent all year long. I wouldn’t say we are peaking because there is still a lot of room for improvement on our team. Hopefully we’ll come out Thursday night with a lot of energy defensively and get our transition game going.”
First up is Ouachita Baptist (9-7, 1-2), a team that came up big in a tight spot its last time out. Back-to-back losses to Delta State and Christian Brothers saddled the Lady Tigers with an 0-2 start in GSC play, but OBU came through with a 66-61 home win over UA-Monticello on Saturday.
Sophomore guard A’Laeshia Adams led the Lady Tigers to victory with 18 points. She, junior guard Gabby Coleman and sophomore guard Domino Miller give Ouachita one of the most formidable backcourts in the GSC. They have combined to make 77 3-pointers this season.
“Coleman and Adams not only shoot the 3-pointer, they can drive to the basket,” said Wilbers. “We’ve got to stop them in transition. They draw fouls, they finish shots and they kick out to their teammates for 3-point shots. We’ve been working on our transition defense to get ready for this game. It has to be good.”
Thursday will mark the first appearance for Arkansas Tech junior guard Jenny Vining in the arena named for her grandfather and OBU legend Bill Vining.
Jenny Vining, who leads the GSC in scoring at 20.9 points per game, transferred to Arkansas Tech from Oklahoma after the 2008-09 season. Her grandfather retired as OBU head men’s basketball coach in 1989 after 33 years on the Tigers’ bench.
Vining had 19 points in the Golden Suns’ 98-65 win at Harding on Saturday. All five Tech starters reached double figures in scoring as the Suns won their first league road game of the season.
On Thursday, they will try to make it 2-0 on the road in GSC play.