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November 13, 2009

Crimson Tide sneaks past Tennessee Tech in the season opener

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - It was a close game from the opening tip to the final buzzer on Friday evening as the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team came out on the short end of a 73-68 loss against Alabama at the American Bank Center.

Freshman Kellie Cook led the team in scoring in her Golden Eagle debut, finishing with 22 points on 9-of-24 shooting from the field. Sophomore Tacarra Hayes also had an impressive start to the 2009-10 season as she put in 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field. Hayes also grabbed nine rebounds and handed out a pair of assists before fouling out with just less than two minutes remaining in the game.

In her first collegiate game, freshman Tiara Hopper tallied a double-double, finishing with 12 points and a team-high 10 rebounds, including six on the offensive end. Hopper was 5-of-9 from the field and 2-for-2 at the free throw stripe for the game.

Tennessee Tech struggled to make shots from both beyond the 3-point line and at the charity stripe on Friday night. The Golden Eagles shot just 19.0 percent (4-for-21) from behind the arc and 51.9 percent (14-for-27) from the free throw line.

For the game, Alabama shot 41.9 percent (26-for-62) from the field, 41.7 percent (5-for-12) from 3-point range and 57.1 percent (16-for-28) from the free throw line.

Foul trouble plagued the Golden Eagles early in the game as sophomore Krystal Stirrup was forced to the bench after being called for two fouls less than two minutes into the contest. Shortly after Stirrup left the game, Alabama went picked up back-to-back field goals by Tamara Williams to take an 8-4 lead.

After the Crimson Tide extended their lead to seven, 16-9, the Golden Eagles responded with eight consecutive points on a long three by sophomore Rachel Glidden, layup by Hopper and transition 3-pointer by Kellie Cook.

Tennessee Tech held the lead for most of the first half until the 4:28 mark when an Alabama 3-pointer made the score 28-26 in favor of the Crimson Tide. Tech kept it close, but two more Alabama 3-pointers in the last two minutes of the half gave them a 40-33 lead at the break.

Alabama had 10 second chance points and 23 points from its bench in the opening 20 minutes.

In the second half, the Golden Eagle deficit increased to 10 less than a minute into the half and remained double-doubles until the 13:19 mark when Tech went on an 8-0 run to cut its deficit to 56-54. Hayes had four points during the run, including a pair of three throws to bring the team within two. Alabama answered by extending its lead back to five, 61-56, but a pair of 3-pointers by Kylie Cook sandwiched around a layup by Hopper put Tech ahead for the first since the first half with 4:03 remaining in the contests.

After a jumper by Alabama and free throw by Tech's Glidden, the game was tied at 65-65 when the Crimson Tide hit four consecutive free throws to take a 69-65 lead. Kellie Cook's jumper with 1:24 remaining cut the deficit to two, but that is as close as the Golden Eagles would get as Alabama iced the game at the free throw line to capture the five-point victory.

Tech now turns its attention to tomorrow's game when the Golden Eagles will take on the Air Force in the consolation game of the Islander Tip-Off Tournament. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m.

Season tickets are on sale for the 2009-2010 season, and are available at the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center or by calling (931) 372-3940. Tickets can also be purchased online at TTUsports.com.