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Top Two Scorers in GSC Meet Saturday

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The top two scorers in Gulf South Conference women’s basketball will go head-to-head Saturday when the nationally 16th-ranked Arkansas Tech Golden Suns host the Southern Arkansas Lady Muleriders in the league opener for both teams.
 
Tip-off at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville is set for 4 p.m. Tickets will be available at the gate. Admission will be free with a valid Tech identification card.
 
Arkansas Tech junior guard Jenny Vining (photographed), the reigning GSC West Division player of the week, leads the conference in scoring at 20.8 points per game.
 
Southern Arkansas sophomore forward Kmaria Hobbs is close behind with a 20.4 points per contest average.
 
Vining is 12th in NCAA Division II in scoring, while Hobbs is 16th in the country in that category.
 
Their impressive scoring averages are where the similarities stop.
 
Vining does the majority of her work from beyond the 3-point arc. She is third in the nation in made 3-pointers per game (4.3) and 19th in the country in 3-point field goal percentage (.475).
 
“Jenny has had a super year for us,” said Tech head coach Dave Wilbers. “Aside from her play, she has been a very good leader for us and shown great work ethic. Jenny’s got a lot to her game. She is one of the top 3-point shooters in the nation, she can finish shots, she has a good 15-foot jumper and she does a good job at the free throw line. She’s got a quick release, and her scoring has really picked up.”
 
Hobbs is the prototypical back-to-the-basket, low-post player. She pulls down 7.9 rebounds per night and is an expert in getting to the free throw line. Hobbs is 54-of-76 (71 percent) from the charity stripe in 2009-10.
Her 76 free throw attempts are the most by any women’s player in the GSC West this season.
 
“Hobbs presents some problems for us,” said Wilbers. “She’s a strong kid, she’s quick and she’s got some good low-post moves. Whether we’re playing man or zone, we’re going to need to get some help on her. I don’t think anyone can really guard her one-on-one. She was one of the better freshmen in our conference last year and she’s as good as any sophomore this season.”
 
The Golden Suns (13-0) have an opportunity on Saturday night to match the best start to a season in the 33-year history of Arkansas Tech women’s basketball.
 
The only Golden Suns squad to ever win its first 14 games was the 1979-80 team, which featured All-America forward Sherry Raney.

That collection of Suns went on to finish 29-2 overall, win the Arkansas Women’s Intercollegiate Sports Association title and make the Golden Suns’ first-ever national tournament appearance.

Southern Arkansas (5-7) has lost three straight games and four of its last five. The Lady Muleriders are last in the GSC in turnover margin (-2.5 per game), a fact that could prove troublesome for them against Arkansas Tech’s increasingly effective full-court press.

The Golden Suns lead the GSC in turnover margin (+7.0 per game) and have forced more turnovers (363) than any team in the conference.

Saturday’s game will mark Southern Arkansas head coach Sam Biley’s final visit to Tucker Coliseum as the Lady Muleriders’ head coach. Biley announced in March that the 2009-10 season would be his final one on the SAU women’s bench.

Biley has been associated with Southern Arkansas basketball for nearly 40 years. He was an All-Arkansas Intecollegiate Conference player for the Muleriders from 1973-77, a graduate assistant coach for the SAU men from 1978-80 and a full-time assistant coach for the Muleriders from 1980-95.

He assumed the duties of SAU women’s basketball head coach in 1995.

“Coach Biley is very professional,” said Wilbers. “He’s always nice, and he’s put in a good career at Southern Arkansas. His kids like him, and he’s got a good basketball team this year. He’s an all-around good person, and I think the players he has come into contact with will always remember and appreciate what he did for them.”

Saturday’s game will be broadcast by Russellville radio station KWKK 100.9 FM. The broadcast will be streamed over the Internet at www.athletics.atu.edu.

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