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Top-Ranked Suns Face First Road Trip

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Ever since Arkansas Tech joined the Gulf South Conference in 1995, the Golden Suns basketball program has been the hammer and the GSC East Division has been the nail. The nationally top-ranked Golden Suns (4-0) will look to continue their domination of GSC East members when they visit the West Alabama Tigers (2-0) on Saturday. Tip-off at Pruitt Hall in Livingston, Ala., is set for 2 p.m. Russellville radio station KWKK 100.9 FM will have the broadcast.

Click here to access an Internet stream of that broadcast. Arkansas Tech’s women have an all-time record of 34-4 against the six schools that comprise the GSC East Division --- Alabama-Huntsville, North Alabama, Valdosta State, West Alabama, West Florida and West Georgia. The Golden Suns were 5-0 against the GSC East last season, and Tech has won 12 consecutive regular season games against current GSC East members. The Suns’ last regular season loss to a GSC East foe was a 64-44 setback at West Florida on Dec. 29, 2003. The good news for GSC East Division women’s basketball programs is that Arkansas Tech is departing for the newly-named Great American Conference after this season.

The bad news for the GSC East is that the Golden Suns are saying farewell with one of the most talented teams in the 34-year history of intercollegiate women’s basketball at Arkansas Tech.

The Suns have won their first four games by an average margin of 52.7 points per contest. Tech is averaging 104.5 points per game, and it has scored 100 or more points in three consecutive women’s basketball games for the first time in school history.

Junior forward Natalia Santos (21.5 points per game) and senior guard Jenny Vining (20.0 points per game) lead the Golden Suns in scoring.

“We’re scoring a lot of points, and one reason is because we are shooting the basketball so well,” said head coach Dave Wilbers, who is 80-18 in four years at Arkansas Tech. “We’re hitting some tough shots in traffic, we’re shooting the 3-pointer well and we’re running the floor. It’s looking pretty good right now, but we understand what’s in front of us. It’s going to get tougher come Saturday at West Alabama.”

West Alabama opened the season with a 56-48 win over NCAA Division II South Region foe Barry University on Nov. 13. The Tigers survived their first road test of the season on Tuesday when they slipped past Talladega College 57-51.

Senior forward Latashia Greer leads West Alabama in scoring at 14.5 points per game. Senior guard Mystee Dale also averages double figures in scoring for the Tigers (12.0 points per game), and at 5-foot-8 she is UWA’s top rebounder (9.5 per game). “We need to play some tough games like this on the road,” said Wilbers. “I like where we are at and we’re ready to face some tough competition. It’s going to be a challenge.” Depth could be a factor in Saturday’s contest. West Alabama only lists eight players on its active roster. Arkansas Tech has 11 players who are averaging 11 minutes or more of playing time. Livingston is the first of two destinations on a long road trip for the Golden Suns. Tech will venture on to Carrollton, Ga., for a 4:30 p.m. (CST) contest against the West Georgia Wolves on Monday. That game can also be heard on KWKK 100.9 FM and at www.athletics.atu.edu.

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