By Rob Schabert, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee State put its defense to work to open the second half of a tie game, and stymied Tennessee Tech for nine minutes while building a lead that lasted to the finish.
The Tigers (3-21/2-8 OVC) knocked off the host Golden Eagles (10-13/3-5 OVC) in the Eblen Center, 81-68, in Ohio Valley Conference action. The win allowed the Tigers to split the series with Tech, after the Golden Eagles had claimed a four-point win in Nashville a month earlier.
The Tigers were paced by Patrick Miller's 27 points and five assists, including a 13-of-16 effort in his one-man parade to the free throw line. Miller was 4-for-6 from long range. M.J. Rhett added 20 points and eight rebounds, shooting 7-for-9 from the floor and 6-of-7 at the charity stripe. A third Tiger in double figures was Jay Harris with 11.
Dwan Caldwell (in photo above) notched a career-high 22 points to pace Tech, along with eight rebounds and two blocked shots. Senior Dennis Ogbe, who earlier in the day was named an Academic All-District selection, added 11 points and nine rebounds. Junior Jordan Johnson also netted 11 for coach Steve Payne's squad.
Tech led by as many as 10 in the first half, as the Golden Eagles connected on 52 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes (13-for-25). A three-point play by Caldwell with 5:25 left in the half put Tech up, 30-20.
Miller canned a couple 3-pointers in the final 2:24 to spearhead the comeback as TSU tied the contest by halftime, 36-all.
The Tigers held Tech to six points in the first nine minutes of the second half, and used a 23-6 run to storm out to a 17-point advantage at 59-42. Hitting 63.6 percent in the final 20 minutes, TSU was able to maintain a double-digit edge.
Tech clawed back to within 10 points with 1:51 to play, 76-66, on a pair of free throws by Caldwell, but the Golden Eagles never found the combination to get closer.
The Golden Eagles remain at home for Saturday's OVC contest against Belmont. The second came of a doubleheader, the men's game begins at 7:30 p.m. following the women's game against the Bruin women.
Tickets are available online or by calling (931) 372-3940.