February 26, 2011

Golden Eagles edge Gamecocks on Senior Night in Eblen Center

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – A slightly different storyline, but the same result – a 3-pointer by junior Zac Swansey with 37 seconds remaining lifted Tennessee Tech into the late lead and the Golden Eagles held on with free throws to claim a 77-75 Ohio Valley Conference victory over Jacksonville State Saturday night in the Eblen Center.

Kevin Murphy led Tech with 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists – including the pass to Swansey on what proved to be the game-winner. Swansey finished with 13 points and six assists, while Alfred Jones had 10 points – on 5-for-5 shooting -- and five rebounds. Tech (18-11/12-6 OVC) also got nine points and six rebounds from Jud Dillard.

The game was Senior Night, and the final appearance in Eblen center for players Alfred Jones, Charles Newton and Byron Pickens, all of whom were in the starting lineup.

Four players were in double figures for the Gamecocks (5-25/3-15 OVC), led by Stephen Hall with 18 points and five rebounds. B.J. Miller added 16 points and a career-high seven assists, Brian Williams finished with 13 points and Jeremy Bynum notched 11 points and three assists.

Down 72-71 with just over a minute to play, the Golden Eagle defense forced a missed shot that Swansey tracked down in the corner.

At the other end, Murphy drew the defense to the baseline and kicked a pass back to Swansey on the left wing. The junior calmly swished a 3-pointer, lifting Tech on top, 74-72, with 37 seconds to play.

De'Andre Bynum made one of two free throws with 24 ticks to play, cutting it to one-point at 74-73.

With 20.9 seconds left, Zach Bailey made both of his free throws and Tech's lead was back to three, 76-73.

A 3-point try from the right wing by Miller was off the mark, and Swansey nabbed the rebound. He made one charity toss with 8.4 seconds to go to clinch the win, despite a JSU layup at the buzzer.

Tech never led in the first half, tying the game once and pulling to within one point four times. JSU led by seven early in the half before a couple of 3-pointers by Chase Dunn brought Tech back into a 13-13 tie. The Gamecocks went back on top by eight, 26-18, for their largest lead of the half, but Dennis Ogbe came off the bench to spark Tech as the Golden Eagles sliced the margin to 27-26.

A jumper by Swansey with 53 seconds to go made it 33-32, before Stephen Hall's basket with 27 seconds remaining sent the visitors to intermission with a 35-32 lead.

The Gamecocks maintained control early in the second half, taking their three-point lead up to seven points before Jones hit back-to-back layups to bring the Golden Eagles back within three. Tech eventually tied the contest at 45-45, and the game was knotted three more times, the last time at 58-58 with 8:22 remaianing.

Once again, the visiting Gamecocks surged ahead and gained another seven-point lead, 70-63, with 4:52 to play on a 3-pointer by Miller.

The Golden Eagles scored the next six points, and the contest was a one-point game until Swansey's 3-ball. 

Tech shot 50 percent (28-for-56) from the field and owned a 41-28 advantage on the boards. JSU shot 44.8 percent (26-for-58), including 10-for-21 (47.6 percent) from outside the arc.

With the regular season behind them, the Golden Eagles will journey to Nashville next week for the 2011 Ohio Valley Conference Tournament at Municipal Arena. As the tourney's No. 4 seed, Tech will play Thursday at 6 p.m., facing the winner of Wednesday's game between the No. 5 and No. 8 seeds. 

All-session and individual session tickets for the tournament are on sale at the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center.