MARTIN, Tenn. – Everybody played his role to near-perfection Saturday afternoon as the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagle men's basketball team rolled to an 85-62 Ohio Valley Conference victory at UT Martin in the Elam Center.
Tech improved to 9-6 overall and brought its OVC record to even at 1-1. UT Martin fell to 3-13 overall and slipped to 0-3 within the league.
Junior forward Jud Dillard had another strong game with 25 points and eight rebounds, hitting 11-for-12 at the free throw line and 7-for-12 from the field. Senior point guard Zac Sawnsey directed the attack and finished with 12 assists and six steals.
The Golden Eagles also got double-figure scoring from senior Kevin Murphy with 18 points while senior Zach Bailey netted 13. Senior center Liam McMorrow matched Dillard as the game's top boardmen, also grabbing eight rebounds as Tech held a 31-19 advantage on the glass.
The equation was simple: Tech shot the ball well, had a huge edge in rebounds, and had excellent results distributing the ball and playing defense. The result was solid teamwork that sends the Golden Eagles into the New Year on a high note.
Myles Taylor was the biggest scoring threat of the contest for UTM with 26 points as he went 9-for-15 from the field and hit all eight of his free throws. Mike Liabo added 14 points and six assists, and led the Skyhawks with five rebounds, while Jeremy Washington scored 10.
The Golden Eagles forged into the lead at 22-21 with 11:07 to play in the first half on a layup by Dillard, and held the advantage the rest of the way. UTM pulled to within one at 24-23, and was within two at 27-25, before Tech went on a 6-0 run to gain some breathing room.
A 3-pointer by Liabo with 3:39 to play in the half pulled the Skyhawks to within two once more, 35-33, but Tech was able to moved back on top by eight at halftime with an 8-2 stretch.
In the second half, UTM managed to pull within four points at 51-47 when Myles scored a three-point play with 15:26 to play.
A thunderous dunk by McMorrow with 15 minutes left ignited an 8-0 run and Tech opened a double-digit lead at 59-47. The Golden Eagles systematically added to their margin the rest of the way, the difference reaching 20 points at 77-57 with 4:15 left on a basket by Bailey. Tech's largest lead was 25 points following a pair of Dillard free throws with 1:25 to play to make it 85-60.
Tech shot 54.2 percent from the field for the game (26-for-48), including 6-for-13 46.2 percent) from long range. The Golden Eagles made 84.4 percent of their free throws, going 27-for-32.
The Skyhawks shot 42.2 percent (19-for-45) from the floor, going 2-for-10 from outside the arc. UTM was nearly perfect at the free throw line, hitting 22-for-24 for 91.7 percent.
The Golden Eagles will return home for its next two games, hosting Tennessee State Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Eblen Center and welcoming Morehead State on Saturday for the second part of a doubleheader.