By Rob Schabert, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- – For all the things Dennis Ogbe did Saturday night for the Golden Eagles, his gutsy effort to defend the basket on a layup try with 2.4 seconds left may have been his biggest contribution of the game.
Ogbe, who suffered a deep cut on his forehead in the first half and was playing with a headband-style bandage around his skull, led the Golden Eagles with 16 points in their thrilling, 64-63 victory over SIU Edwardsville in OVC action in Eblen Center.
With Tennessee Tech clinging to a one-point lead following a massive second half SIUE comeback, the Golden Eagles missed a chance for a cushion when freshman Shirmane Thomas missed both free throws with 10 seconds to play.
Maurice Wiltz grabbed the rebound and fed it to Donivine Stewart, who drove to the basket for the game-winner.
But Ogbe was already there, floating at the rim, and diverted Stewart's layup attempt. Ray Lester tried to tip the rebound back just an instant before the buzzer sounded, but that also missed the mark as Golden Eagle defenders stormed the rim.
Tennessee Tech (10-9/3-1 OVC) was able to withstand the second-half effort by SIU Edwardsville (4-12/1-2 OVC), after the Cougars erased what had ballooned to a 21-point TTU lead early in the second period.
The ony time SIUE led in the game came on a 3-pointer by Kris Davis in the first two minutes that put the Cougars up, 3-2. After that, the Golden Eagles built a double-digit margin and led by 10 at the break, 32-22.
Tech opened the second half with a 15-4 run that took the lead to 47-26, just four minutes into the stanza.
Keaton Jackson scored all 11 of his points in the second half and Davis notched 10 in the second period, and the Cougars chipped away, finally getting the margin down to single digits with 4:41 remaining.
A layup by Jordan Johnson with 4:45 remaining was the final basket of the game for the Golden Eagles, putting Tech on top 63-53.
The visitors continued to surge, and with 1:08 left made it a 63-61 Tech lead on a dunk by Jackson.
Johnson made a steal with 31 seconds left and converted one free throw for a 64-61 lead, the single point proving to be the game-winner.
Stewart scored a layup with 20 seconds left, which led to Thomas' two free throw tries with 10 seconds to play.
Point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas (on photo above) had 11 points, five assists and two steals, Ladon Carter chipped in with eight points and nine rebounds, and Josiah Moore added seven points and five rebounds.
Davis topped SIUE with 17 points and also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
The rivalry between the two schools is relatively young, with Saturday's game being just the sixth meeting. Tech leads 4-2, including a perfect 3-0 record in Eblen Center.
Tech gets a full week away from action to prepare for its next game, an important Ohio Valley Conference visit from Southeast Missouri on Saturday night in Eblen Center. Tipoff is at 7 p.m., and it's the second of two Faculty/Staff Appreciation Nights, with free tickets available to all TTU employees.
For ticket information please call the Athletic Ticket Office in Eblen Center at (931) 372-3940.