COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- And down the stretch they come…
The Tennessee Tech women’s basketball team is rounding the final turn and heading down the stretch for the Ohio Valley Conference finish line with a pretty clear picture of where they stand.
Winners of three of their last four games, coach Amy Brown’s team is jockeying for a position in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament, and holds its destiny in its own hands.
Tech is currently in seventh place in the league standings with a 5-10 record with three league games remaining, two of them against upper division teams in the conference standings. After hosting third place Tennessee State Thursday night, Tech will welcome fourth place Austin Peay to town on Saturday.
Tech wraps up the regular season next Saturday (Feb. 28) with a game at Jacksonville State.
The Golden Eagles might show up Thursday with a bad taste in their mouth, remembering a 79-75 overtime loss to Tennessee State in Nashville less than a month ago.
In that game, TSU’s Kendra Appling stole the show, literally. With 31 seconds to play in a one-point game in overtime, Appling stole Tech’s inbounds pass, and iced the game.
But this time, the Golden Eagles will be on their home court, and come into the game with a head of steam, having won three of their last four games.
A win over the Lady Tigers would put Tech a big step closer to clinching the seventh seed.
Tennessee State is also battling for position in the OVC standings. The Tigers are currently in third place at 10-4 in the league, and are trying to lock up home-court advantage in the opening round of the tournament.
The Golden Eagles are 3-1 in February, with wins against Eastern Kentucky, Morehead State, and UT Martin, and a seven-point loss at league-leading Murray State. In those games the Golden Eagles are outscoring their opponents by 5.8 points-per-game, and have 55 assists and just 47 turnovers. By comparison, Tech’s opponents have 80 turnovers in that span.
Tech seniors Blair Bowens, Meagan Lyons, and Allison Price have led the recent charge. Bowens is putting up 19 points per game in February, while Lyons is averaging14 points and five boards. Price has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.5-to-1 and has six steals, while adding 5.3 points.
The win by TSU earlier this year marked only the eighth time in 51 games that the Tigers have been on the winning side. Tech owns a 43-8 series edge, and has never lost both regular season games to TSU.
Tennessee State, however, did get a win the last time these rivals met on the Eblen Center floor, a 69-56 victory last winter.
This year’s first meeting was a thriller in the Gentry Center. For the second time in three nights, Tech put in overtime on the job, and for the second time the Golden Eagles suffered a heart-breaking Ohio Valley Conference road loss.
TSU claimed a 79-75 victory, two nights after Tech had dropped a two-point, double-overtime contest at Austin Peay.
The Golden Eagles held a three-point lead in the final minute of regulation, but Kendra Appling's 3-pointer as the shot clock wound to zero tied things with 24 seconds to go, forcing the overtime period.
It was a steal by Appling with 31 seconds to go in the overtime that might have been the decisive play of the night. Down 75-74, Tech called timeout to set up a play. Appling swiped the inbounds pass and the Tigers made just enough free throws to hold on for the win.
Bowens led Tech with 18 points, including four of Tech's five points in overtime. Lyons scored 16 points and had seven rebounds, four assists and four steals. Also in double figures, freshman Tacarra Hayes scored 16 and grabbed seven boards.
Tiffany Jackson, who reached 1,000 in her career total in the game, led TSU with 23 points and nine rebounds. Appling added 20 points and five steals, while Charisse Hicks chipped in with 12 points and six rebounds. Jasmine Smith, one of for post players to foul out in the contest (along with TSU's Kierra Goodwin and Tech's Jasmine White and Vivian Nwosu), had eight points and nine rebounds.