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Tech Begins Sprint to Finish Thursday in Durant

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The stretch drive in the Great American Conference basketball races begins now for Arkansas Tech University.
Arkansas Tech will start a regular-season ending stretch of five doubleheaders over a 10-day span when it visits Southeastern Oklahoma State University for a twin bill at Bloomer Sullivan Arena in Durant, Okla., on Thursday, Feb. 16.
The women’s contest between the nationally 14th-ranked Arkansas Tech Golden Suns (17-3 overall, 8-3 GAC) and the Southeastern Oklahoma State Savage Storm (9-13, 5-7) will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Game two between the nationally 20th-ranked Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys (17-4, 9-2) and the Southeastern Oklahoma State Savage Storm men (9-15, 5-7) is set for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.
Both games will be broadcast by radio station KWKK 100.9 FM. 

Click here to access an Internet stream of the broadcast.
Arkansas Tech was picked to sweep the inaugural GAC basketball titles in a preseason poll of league head coaches, and the Golden Suns and the Wonder Boys have a good opportunity to make those predictions come true.
Both Arkansas Tech teams are on six-game winning streaks and in second place in the GAC standings. The Golden Suns and the Wonder Boys have another factor in common --- they will both get a crack at the only team in front of them during the next week.

The Wonder Boys will get that opportunity when they host first-place Henderson State on Saturday, Feb. 18, while the Golden Suns will have that chance when they visit Harding on Monday, Feb. 20. 

But in order for those games to carry their full potential meaning, both Arkansas Tech teams must negotiate a tough road trip to one of the most hostile environments in GAC basketball.

Southeastern Oklahoma State ranks first in women’s basketball home attendance and second in men’s basketball home attendance among Great American Conference members this season.

“We are still getting better in practice,” said Golden Suns head coach Dave Wilbers. “There are still areas of improvement we need to make. One of them is taking care of the basketball and making the easy pass. It’s a hard time of year because you have to find a way to keep your gas tank full.”

The Golden Suns defeated Southeastern Oklahoma State 61-55 in Russellville on Jan. 19. Arkansas Tech held Southeastern Oklahoma State without a made field goal for the final 4:52 of the game, and Katie Horsman's put-back basket with 20 seconds left set the final score.

Horsman's rebound was the 25th offensive rebound of the night for Tech. The Golden Suns finished with a 26-13 edge in second-chance points.

The Wonder Boys had an easier time in dispatching the Southeastern Oklahoma State men 79-61 in game two of that doubleheader last month at Tucker Coliseum.
Arkansas Tech did not allow the Savage Storm to make a field goal between the 19:03 and 5:55 marks of the first half. That allowed the Wonder Boys to go on a 23-4 run and build a 25-7 lead with 9:03 left in the opening period. Arkansas Tech held a 43-24 lead at halftime and its lead never dipped below 14 points in the second half.

The Wonder Boys forced Southeastern Oklahoma State into 27 turnovers and finished with a 28-4 edge in points off turnovers.

“Southeastern is a much different team at home,” said Arkansas Tech men’s basketball head coach Doug Karleskint. “They beat Arkansas-Monticello there, and they beat Henderson State by 12 there. It seems like they play with a lot more enthusiasm and shoot the ball so much better in their own gym. Our guys are starting to recognize that we’re going to get everyone’s best shot, especially when we go on the road.”

After their trip to Durant, the Golden Suns and the Wonder Boys will wrap up the regular season by hosting Henderson State on Saturday, Feb. 18, visiting Harding on Monday, Feb. 20, playing at Ouachita Baptist on Thursday, Feb. 23, and hosting Southern Arkansas on Saturday, Feb. 25.

Game times for the Arkansas Tech-HSU doubleheader on Saturday will be 4 and 6 p.m. at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville. Promotional ticket prices of $5 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens will be in effect. Those with a valid Arkansas Tech identification card will be admitted free of charge.

Both Arkansas Tech teams have clinched a berth in the inaugural GAC Tournament, which will be played March 1-4 in Bartlesville, Okla.