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Evansville edges Tech in double overtime, 91-90

Tech opens OVC play Saturday at Jacksonville State

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech opened like a runaway train Tuesday night but after sideswiping disaster in regulation, the Golden Eagles were derailed in double overtime by Evansville, 91-90.

The decision wasn’t without controversy as twice Tech was thwarted on game-winning baskets. First, Tech’s apparent clincher in regulation was erased by a charging foul against Kevin Murphy.

Then, at the end of the second overtime period, officials reviewed the instant replay and ruled that Jud Dillard’s tip-in came after time had expired.

Ned Cox led all scorers with 22 points for Evansville (3-2), hitting 4-for-6 from long range. Colt Ryan finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists, hitting key baskets at the end ofregulation and the second overtime. James Haarsma added a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds while Bryan Bouchie also hit double digits with 16 points along with seven boards.

The Golden Eagles (3-5) had six players in double figures, topped by Frank Davis with 19 points, including four 3-pointers, and five rebounds. Murphy added 17, Dillard had career-highs of 15 points and seven rebounds, and Elijah Muhammad scored 12 along with six rebounds and six assists. Alfred Jones fouled out with 11 points and five rebounds and Zach Bailed scored 10.

For the first several minutes Tuesday night, it looked like Evansville would be left in the dust, but the Purple Aces avoided the blowout with a 21-point turnaround. Down by 15 in the first half, Evansville went on top by six in the second half before Tech recovered.

Ryan dropped in a 3-pointer with 12 seconds remaining to tie the game at 73-73, then Kevin Murphy’s apparent game-winner with 3.4 seconds left was erased when he was called for an offensive charging foul on his layup under the basket.

After Davis had lifted Tech to an 81-78 lead with 43 seconds remaining in the first overtime, Cox converted a three-point play with 36 seconds left to knot things at 81-81. Dillard’s jumper with three seconds to go bounced off the rim and the teams reset for a second overtime period.

Each team had a two-point lead in the second extra session, the Evansville margin at 87-85 with 2:11 left. Murphy hit a basket and a free throw with 1:52 to play punch Tech back into the lead at 88-87, but Haarsma’s layup with 1:27 on the clock made it a one-point Evansville lead.

Bailey’s floater in the lane with 13 second left put Tech ahead, 90-89, but Ryan pulled out one final heroic shot, sinking a runner in the lane with five seconds to play. Bailey took a shot just before the buzzer and Dillard tipped in the miss as the horn sounded that was ruled too late.

Tech stormed out to a 9-1 lead in the first three minutes, and maintained a lead in double digits for much of the first half as Jones led the way with nine points and Muhammad added seven points and four assists. The widest margin was a 15-point bulge that Tech reached twice.

A rebound and layup by Jones made it 24-9 with 11:02 to go, then Jones repeated that effort a half minute later to make it 26-11.

But the Purple Aces found the range and went on a 7-0 run to cut into Tech’s hefty advantage, making it 26-18 on a jumper by Bouchie with 6:28 to play.

Jones converted a three-point play to regain an 11-point advantage at 29-18 with 5:21 on the clock, before Evansville had its best stretch of the half. The visitors outscored Tech 10-2 over the next three minutes to creep with three points at 31-28. Cox canned back-to-back 3-pointers to open the run, and a layup by Kavon Lacey capped the run.

Dillard had a steal and layup to give Tech a five-point lead before Haarsma scored four in a row to close the half with the Purple Aces within one point, 33-32.

Evansville was on top by six midway in the second half and the Golden Eagles owned a six-point lead with 2:51 remaining before the Purple Aces closed with a 9-3 run to force the overtimes.

The next challenge on Tech’s schedule is the Ohio Valley Conference opener, as the Golden Eagles visit Jacksonville State Saturday for a 4 p.m. contest against the Gamecocks.

Tech returns to Eblen Center after its OVC opener to host its final three games of 2009 on its home floor. The three-game homestand includes contests against Ball State (Dec. 12), Bryan College (Dec. 19) and Union College (Dec. 30).

Season tickets to watch the Golden Eagles are on sale at the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center or by calling (931) 372-3940.