By Rob Schabert, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The senior class took one final curtain call in Eblen Center Saturday night, posting a 69-57 victory over Jacksonville State that clinched Tennessee Tech a spot in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament next month in Nashville.
Senior Dennis Ogbe took his final bow with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds, while senior Jeremiah Samarrippas added 13 points. Seniors Matt Marseille and Mitchell Hill were in the starting lineup for their final effort in front of the home fans, and both got into the scoring.
Junior Dwan Caldwell added 13 points and freshman Shirmane Thomas scored 10, both hitting double digits.
Brian Williams was the lone Gamecock in double figures, scoring 13, while Darion Rackley, Mike Louder and Giovanni Smith each scored eight.
Tech, which has won five of its last six games, improved to 15-14 overall and 8-6 in OVC play. Jacksonville State, which took two losses at the hands of coach Steve Payne's team this season, left tow with a 10-20 overall record and a 4-11 mark in league action.
A 12-2 run late in the first half pushed Tech into a comfortable lead, and they maintained a double-digit advantage the entire second half. Tech was on top by 21 points twice in the game, leading 57-36 with 8:24 to play and again with 7:31 remaining with a 59-38 margin.
The closest JSU got after that was the final 12-point difference.
For the first 10 minutes, Jacksonville managed a slim lead, going up by 12-7 with 13:25 remaining after the teams fought through a span of nearly four scoreless minutes.
Tech took the lead for good when Shirmane Thomas scored a layup with 10:47 to go in the first half, putting his team on top, 15-14. The Golden Eagles crept out further, leading by eight points on a 3-pointer by Javon McKay with 4:13 to play.
Tech closed the half on a 12-2 run to open a 15-point margin at the break, leading 37-22 when the teams went to the dressing rooms. The first half included 51.6 percent shooting (16-for-31) by the home team and a commanding 24-12 edge in rebounds.
Tech cooled off to 39 percent in the second half, finishing the game with a 45.8 percent mark (27-for-59) from the field. JSU shot 37.9 percent (22-for-58) for the game. Both teams hit exactly the same from long range, with Tech going 2-for-10 and JSU posting 4-for-20.
The Golden Eagles owned a 43-34 advantage on the glass, and outscored JSU 44-28 in the paint.
The home schedule now complete, the Golden Eagles take to the road next week for a visit to the league's two sites known for decades as 'Death Valley' with games at Eastern Kentucky on Thursday night and Morehead State Saturday night.