December 18, 2008

Tech sprinkles some basketball action among holiday activities

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Tech women's basketball team is sprinkling a little Golden Eagle action into the area's holiday activities, with a couple of home games in Eblen Center. After taking a few days off for Christmas, coach Amy Brown's team returns to the hardwood by hosting arch-rival Middle Tennessee Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m., and Memphis Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Tech's last two games were against Missouri Valley Conference foes Evansville and Southern Illinois. Now, Tech moves from the "Valley" portion of its schedule to the "Volunteer" portion, with back-to-back non-conference games against in-state rivals Middle Tennessee State and Memphis.

Tech is 1-1 this year against Tennessee opponents, with a 72-55 win at Lipscomb and a 68-62 loss at Belmont.

Sunday's game is another "Church Bulletin Day" in Eblen Center
-- Fans receive free admission to the game with a church bulletin --

The Golden Eagles split their two games last year with MTSU and Memphis, defeating the Lady Tigers in Memphis in the season opener and falling in Murfreesboro a few nights later.

These are a couple of good rivalries, and should provide fans the chance to let out some noisy holiday cheers.

Tech has used the same starting lineup in every game this year, with senior Allison Price, Meagan Lyons and Blair Bowens being joined bu junior Vivian Nwosu and sophomore Jasmine White.

Lyons and Bowens are each inching closer to the 1,000-Point Club. Lyons has jumped above the 900-point mark, while Bowens is just over the 800-point plateau. They are hoping to become the 24th and 25th members of that elite group.

While the starters have been a steady group, the bench has also provided consistent play. Nine players are averaging at least nine minutes of playing time per game. The bench has provided 17.2 points per game, led by freshman Krystal Stirrup's 8.5 points per game.

Bowens is Tech's scoring leader with 14.1 points per game to rank ninth in the Ohio Valley Conference. Right behind her, four players are contributing between 8.7 and 9.9 points per contest. That group includes Stirrup, Price (8.7 ppg) Lyons (9.9 ppg) and White (9.4 ppg).

White is the team leader in rebounds with 6.7 per game to rank eighth in the OVC, while Stirrup is second on the team and 13th in the OVC, averaging 6.2 per contest.

Despite the fact that Middle Tennessee has been out of the Ohio Valley Conference for several years, fans of both schools still get their blood boiling when the two schools meet, especially on the hardwood.

Tech and MTSU have met 84 times through the years in women's basketball, with the Golden Eagles owning a 50-34 lead in the series. Middle Tennessee has won the last three games, including an 89-62 victory last year. MTSU claimed a 68-50 win in 2006-07, the last time the two tangled in Eblen Center.

In last year's game, MTSU overcame 63 percent shooting by the Golden Eagles to grab an 89-62 victory.

The Blue Raiders put together an early scoring run with 26 points in the first eight minutes, including 16 points off nine Tech turnovers. The Blue Raiders went 9-for-16 from long range in the opening half.

Tech dominated the last 20 minutes, outscoring the Blue Raiders 38-31. The Golden Eagles shot 76 percent in the second half (16-for-21), and used a 9-0 run to tighten things up late.

Senior Cara Reed went 5-for-5, including knocking down two shots from long range, to lead Tech with 13 points and a game-high six rebounds.

Middle Tennessee senior Amber Holt shot 9-for-14 with one three-pointer for the game-high 19 points.

Jasmine White also went 5-for-5 and finished with 11 points. The Golden Eagles were charged with 33 turnovers.

Alysha Clark, a 5-10 junior transfer from Belmont, leads the Raiders in scoring and rebounds this season. The Mt. Juliet product is averaging 23.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, shooting 53 percent from the field and 80 percent at the free throw line.

Anne Marie Lanning is also averaging in double figures for coach Rick Insell's team, scoring 10.5 points per game as the team's top 3-point threat. Lanning is a 5-11 sophomore from Murfreesboro Riverdale, and is hitting 42 percent from long distance.

Like Tech, MTSU has had several players contributing nearly double-digit averages. Chelsia Lymon, a 5-5 junior guard, is adding 8.4 points and Brandi Brown, a 6-3 junior from Jamestown, Tenn., is averaging 8.3 points per game. Right behind are 6-1 sophomore Emily Queen with 7.8 points per game and 5-10 junior Jackie Pickel with 6.8 points per contest.

In addition to Brown, one other area players comes back to the Upper Cumberland as a Blue Raider. Freshman forward Molly McFadden prepped at White County High School in Sparta.