Only two of the first 32 teams in Arkansas Tech Golden Suns basketball history won their first 11 games of the season. On Wednesday night, the Golden Suns have a chance to make that list a party of three.
Arkansas Tech (10-0) will look to post its first 11-game winning streak to start a women’s basketball season in 30 years when the nationally 24th-ranked Golden Suns host the Midwestern State Mustangs (4-6) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 30. Tickets will be available at the door. Admission is free for those with a valid Tech identification card. The last time the Suns started 11-0 or better was the 1979-80 season. All-American Sherry Raney led that Tech squad to a school-record 14-0 start. One year before that school-record 14-0 start, the Suns won their first 13 games of the 1978-79 campaign.
Those are the only two Tech women's teams to ever start 11-0 or better. This year’s Golden Suns will have to shake off a bit of rust to get to 11-0. The Suns have not played since defeating Alabama-Huntsville 98-65 on Dec. 21. Tech head coach Dave Wilbers said that he believes his team will be physically ready to go after the nine-day break from game competition. “We’re very close to the conditioning level we need to be at,” said Wilbers, who is 55-15 in three years as the Suns head coach. “Anytime you take four days off from practice you take a step back with your conditioning, but the players did a good job of working out during that time. They came back strong, and I’d say by the time conference play rolls around (on Jan. 9) we’ll be in our best shape of the year.” Junior guard Jenny Vining was certainly in good form before the holiday break. She set a new career high by scoring 35 points and she made a school-record nine 3-pointers in a 75-66 win at North Alabama on Dec. 19.
Vining shattered her personal scoring best and made more Tech history 48 hours later by scoring 41 points against UAH. She became just the third different Golden Sun to ever score 40 or more points in a game. It was the first 40-point game by a Tech women’s player since Jan. 4, 1990, when Lanell Dawson scored 42 points against Louisiana College.
Dawson and Donna Brunson both topped the 40-point mark twice in their careers, both were All-Americans and both are members of the Arkansas Tech Hall of Distinction.
Vining leads the Gulf South Conference with a 19.9 points per game average. She is second in the league in assists (5.5 per game).
With 69 successful tries from the field and 55 assists, Vining has had a big hand in 41 percent (124-of-303) of Tech’s made field goals this season.
Sophomore forward Natalia Santos (14 points, 6.7 rebounds per game), junior guard Laura Beth Anderson (9.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists per game) and freshman forward Jessica Weatherford (8.4 points, 5.3 rebounds per game) have also been among Tech’s top contributors this season.
Sophomore forward Katie Horsman took a big step forward during the Alabama trip. She averaged 13.5 points per game and was 5-of-7 from 3-point range during the two-game swing.
Senior point guard Ashley Chisum missed the first four games of the season due to injury, but since returning she has posted an assist-to-turnover ratio of nearly 3-to-1 (32 assists, 12 turnovers in six games).
Midwestern State is 0-4 away from home this season. The Mustangs rank at the bottom of the Lone Star Conference in 3-point field goals made (3.4 per game), but they make up for that deficiency by grabbing 13.2 offensive rebounds per game --- fourth-best in the LSC.
“The key to the game will be whether or not we can block them out,” said Wilbers. “They haven’t shot a good percentage so far this season, but they are as good as anyone we’ve played so far this season on second-chance points.”
Defense has fueled Midwestern State so far this year. The Mustangs have held their first 10 opponents to 39.9 percent shooting from the field, and they rank third in the LSC in blocked shots (3.5 per game).
“They are very active and athletic,” said Wilbers of Midwestern State’s defense. “They don’t have a lot of big girls, but they have several 5-10 and 5-11 athletes. They will cause us some mismatch problems, and we won’t get a lot of second looks because they run down defensive rebounds.”
After the Midwestern State game, the Golden Suns will ring in 2010 with a two-game road trip.
The Suns will visit Northwest Missouri State for a 1:30 p.m. game in Maryville, Mo., on Jan. 2. They will then head to Weatherford, Okla., for a 3:30 p.m. contest against Southwestern Oklahoma State on Jan. 5.
All Tech basketball games can be heard on KWKK 100.9 FM and over the Internet at www.athletics.atu.edu.]]>