COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - A brutal month of November left the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team with a 1-4 record through its first five games. However, the Golden Eagles have turned it around of late and will enter Saturday's game against Southern Illinois winners of their last two, including last Saturday's victory in their OVC opener against Jacksonville State.
Tech (3-4, 1-0 OVC) trailed going into halftime against Jacksonville State but rallied to out-score the Gamecocks, 41-26, in the second half en route to capturing a 68-59 road win. Freshman Kellie Cook led the team in scoring for the third time this season, putting up 20 points for TTU. Sophomore Rachel Glidden set a career high with 16 points, including 4-of-8 shooting from 3-point range, while sophomore Tacarra Hayes added another 16 for the Golden Eagles.
The Golden Eagles will look for another strong performance on Saturday when the Salukis come to the Eblen Center for the 12th time. So far, Tech has had Southern Illinois' number in its trips to Cookeville, winning eight of the previous 11 match-ups between the two schools.
While Tech leads the all-time series between the two teams, 13-10, the Salukis have had the upper hand recently. SIU has won the last three contests, including last season's, 74-67, affair at Southern Illinois.
Despite the history between the two teams, Saturday's game will certainly have a new feel to it as just one player - SIU's Katrina Swingler - is a returning starter from last season's match-up. Collectively, Southern Illinois' roster features just six players from a season ago, while Tech's roster only has four. For the Golden Eagles, only Hayes and sophomore Krystal Stirrup saw significant action in last year's game.
This season, Southern Illinois enters the game with a 0-6 overall record after most recently falling to Colorado State, 62-53. SIU also has losses to Saint Louis, Vanderbilt, Northern Illinois, Western Michigan and Texas A&M on its resume this year with just one of those games being decided by five-or-less points.
Leading the way for the Salukis is Teri Oliver and Stephany Neptune. Oliver is averaging a team-best 14.3 points per game, while Neptune is scoring 11.8 per contest along with 9.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists and a .510 field goal percentage.
For Tech, Hayes is averaging a team-high 16.0 points per game, while Cook is second on the team at 13.6 per contest. Sophomore Simone Rutledge has come on strong over the past two games, averaging 10.5 points and 10.5 rebounds during that span. She leads the team in rebounding at 5.4 boards per game.
Saturday's game is scheduled for a 4 p.m. tip-off at the Eblen Center. Single game and season tickets are still available through the Golden Eagle ticket office by calling 372-3940 or visiting TTUsports.com.
Live stats can be accessed through TTUsports.com, while Web streaming will be available through OVCsports.tv.