Women's team looks to rebound when top-ranked Eastern Illinois visits Monday

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- League-leading Eastern Illinois is next on the schedule for coach Amy Brown's Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles, as the Panthers visit Eblen Center Monday for a 5:30 p.m. contest. EIU improved to 3-0 Saturday with a 71-58 victory at Jacksonville State.

Tech is 1-1 in the league, beating Jacksonville in December and falling to Southeast Missouri on Saturday night.

And, while the new year is nearly a week old, the Ohio Valley Conference race is just getting rolling with almost two full months left to play. While EIU is at the top of the standings, Tech is eyeing an upset to stay near the top.

The EIU women own a 9-5 overall record, while Tech is 3-10 overall.

EIU beat Tennessee State, 83-45, back on Dec. 4 to open OVC play and followed two nights later with an 81-70 victory over Austin Peay.

Rachel Galligan, one of the contenders for Player of the Year honors, leads EIU in scoring (16.8 ppg) and rebounds (6.2 rpg) while shooting 55 percent from the field and 80 percent at the free throw line. The 6-foot-2 senior from Bloomington, Ill., also has a team-best 18 blocked shots.

Ellen Canale, a 5-9 senior, is also scoring in double figures, averaging 11.2 points per game. She's shooting 51 percent from the field and 80 at the charity line.

Senior point guard Megan Edwards directs coach Brady Sallee's offense, and tops the team with 54 assists and 15 steals while averaging 8.6 points per game.

EIU has limited its foes this year to 59.7 points per game and 36 percent shooting accuracy.

Directing the Panthers, Sallee is in his fifth season as EIU head coach.

Senior Blair Bowens tops Tech with 13.6 points per game while senior Meagan Lyons is averaging 10.1 points. Sophomore center Jasmine White is scoring 9.4 points and leads Tech with 6.6 rebounds per game. Senior point guard Allison Price is averaging 8.6 per game and tops Tech in assists. Freshman Krystal Stirrup is averaging 8.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per outing coming off the bench for coach Amy Brown's team.

A year ago, the Golden Eagles dropped a pair of tough losses to the Panthers, the first one coming on the road in overtime in December.

Tech used deadly 3-point shooting in the second half to pull itself back into a game where the Golden Eagles trailed the entire first half, but fouls cost coach Amy Brown's team down the stretch and allowed Eastern Illinois to capture a 66-64 overtime victory in Lantz Arena.

Tech fought back from a 10-point deficit to take an eight-point lead late in the game, but post players Kristina Tyler and White each took a seat early with five fouls and the Panthers caught up by powering the ball inside.

Tyler finished the contest with 17 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots. Lyons was the only other Golden Eagle in double figures, adding 12 points.

Dominique Sims topped EIU with 19 points and 10 rebounds, as the Panthers owned a 53-41 advantage on the glass. Maggie Kloak had 16 points and 14 rebounds while Canale had 14 points.

After going 0-for-9 from beyond the arc in the first half, seven of Tech's five 11 baskets in the second half were from 3-point range.

Neither team shot well. Eastern Illinois (2-7/1-0 OVC) hit 34.9 percent and Tech hit 32.9 percent.

In game No. 2 in Eblen Center, Eastern Illinois used a 17-3 run midway through the second half to build a double digit lead, and Tech's comeback bid over the final minutes could only make it close as the league-leading Panthers held on for a 72-66 win.

Galligan led EIU with 18 points, including 8-for-8 at the free throw line. She was one of four Panthers in double figures, as Jessica Huffman and Kloak scored 11 apiece and Lindsey Kluempers added 10.

Tech was led by Tyler with 17 points, including a matching 8-for-8 at the free throw line, and four assists. Bowens had 12 points and three assists for the Golden Eagles and Cara Reed came off the bench to contribute 11 points and seven rebounds.

EIU kept its margin in double digits until Tech was able to fight its way back to within eight on a layup by Bowens with 1:43 to go. Four free throws by Tyler sliced the count down to a four-point EIU lead, 68-64, with 48 seconds left, before EIU made four of six charity tosses down the stretch to hold on for the win.

Tickets for the doubleheader are available at the Athletic Ticket Office in Eblen Center, which will be open Monday from 8 a.m. until noon, and from 1 p.m. until the game. Tickets are also available online by clicking here.