Golden Eagles in control in Messer's debut victory

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. --Sophomores Tacarra Hayes and Rachel Glidden and freshman Tiara Hopper each netted 19 points Thursday night to pace the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team to a convincing 97-51 exhibition win over Tennessee Wesleyan in Eblen Center.

It was the first game for new coach Sytia Messer, and the Golden Eagles responded with a solid effort on both ends of the floor. Tech shot 46 percent and held the Bulldogs to 34 percent shooting, and the Golden Eagles owned a 50-28 advantage in rebounds.

The Golden Eagle defense also forced 31 turnovers by the visitors.

A close contest for the first seven minutes, the Golden Eagles caught fire when Hayes (photo at right) came off the bench to drain back-to-back baskets including a 3-pointer, turning a three-point TTU lead into a 12-6 margin.

A 3-pointer by Kylie Cook with 12:28 to play in the half made it a 10-point lead at 18-8, and the difference never returned to single figures. Tech's largest margin of the first half was 19 points three times, including the eventual halftime lead of 44-25.

Kellie Cook had 11 points in the first half, while Hayes, Glidden and Hopper each hit double figures in the second half. Hayes and Glidden each scored 10 of their 19 after the intermission while Hopper had 14 of her 19 in the second half.

Tech's lead grew to 40 points in the final three minutes before winding up at the final 46-point difference.

Hayes finished with 19 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Hopper had 19 points and five rebounds. Glidden, who shot 5-for-7 from long range, had 19 points and three assists. Kellie Cook finished with 13 points and five rbounds.

  Freshman Katy Cooke (photo at left) led Tech's backcourt with six of the team's 22 assists, while Kylie Cook had six points, five rebounds and four assists. Tech got loads of support on the glass as sophomor Krystal Stirrup grabbed eight rebounds and freshman Haley Ervin had seven.

Tennessee Wesleyan had three players in double figures, topped by Katie Blevins with 13. Lindsey Jackson added 10 points and five rebounds and Candace Cain scored 10. Jessica Sweat chipped in with six points and six rebounds.

The Golden Eagles open the regular season next Friday and Saturday at a tournament at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Tech faces Alabama Friday at 5 p.m. in the opening round, with host TAMCC meeting Air Force in the other first round contest.

All of the action for every Tech games can be heard on the Golden Eagle Sports Network, and also on Free Teamline.

photos by Michael Vigeant