Hayes, Cook take top honors at women’s basketball awards banquet

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The duo of Tacarra Hayes and Kellie Cook led the Tennessee Tech women’s basketball team both statistically and emotionally during the 2009-10 season. On Thursday evening, it was no surprise that Hayes and Cook took home the team’s top honors at the women’s basketball awards banquet.

Hayes was named the recipient of the Frank Porter Award, the most prestigious team award that can be given to a player for their on-court accomplishments, and she also earned the title of Miss Offense and Most Improved Player.

Cook also received a trio of awards, including the John P. Hendrix Leadership Award. Cook is the first freshman in Tennessee Tech history to receive the Leadership Award. In addition, Cook was named the team’s Freshman of the Year while also earning the team’s Academic Award.

Other award recipients included Kylie Cook, who received the Golden Eagle Award, and Katherine Barker, who received the Spirit Award.

The awards were presented to the players on Thursday evening in the Eblen Center’s Eagles Nest.

Hayes, a sophomore guard from Lebanon, Ky., led the Golden Eagles in scoring (16.9 points per game), rebounding (5.8 rebounds per game), assists (4.5 assists per game) and steals (1.8 steals per game). A first-team all-conference selection, Hayes finished the season second in the conference in scoring, fourth in assists and fourth in steals.

A two-time OVC Player of the Week selection, Hayes had some of the best single-game performances in Tennessee Tech history during the 2009-10 season.

Late in the season as the Golden Eagles were fighting for position in the OVC race, Hayes scored a career-high 41 points in a game against Tennessee State. The point total is tied for the eighth most in school history, and it is also the most points ever scored by a TTU guard.

Earlier in the season, Hayes scored a then-career-high 39 points against Austin Peay in the first match-up of the season between the two seasons.

Hayes did much more than just score the basketball though. Against Morehead State in early January, Hayes recorded the ninth triple-double in TTU history when she scored 15 points, dished out 12 assists and added 10 rebounds. The accomplishment came just three games after she had her first career double-double with 18 points and 10 assists against Bluefield.

Head coach Sytia Messer praised freshman Kellie Cook’s leadership skills the entire season, often saying she is one of the best leaders she has ever coached, freshman or otherwise. Not only was Cook a great leader, but she was also one of the best players in the OVC.

An OVC all-newcomer team selection, Cook ranked second in the team in scoring at 12.6 points per game and rebounding at 4.7 boards per contest. Cook has the ability to score both inside and outside, and she proved that by knocking down 47 3-pointers and during her freshman campaign.

Cook, a guard from Madison, Ala., was named the OVC Freshman of the Week the first week in January after averaging 20.3 points per game over a three-game span. She also chipped in with 6.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 steals per game during that stretch.

The team’s leader in minutes played (32.5 minutes per game), Cook had her first-ever double-double in a game against Morehead State when she scored 12 points and added 10 boards.

Kylie Cook, the twin sister of Kellie Cook, had similar success during her freshman campaign as she ranked among the conference leaders in 3-pointers made (55) and 3-point field goal percentage (35.9 percent) after leading the team in both categories. She finished the season averaging 8.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.

As the Golden Eagle award recipient, Cook, a forward from Madison, Ala., was recognized for her overall contributions to the team, both on the court and off.

Barker, a freshman guard from Dunlap, Tenn., received the Spirit Award in her first season as a Golden Eagle. After starting 10 consecutive games during the middle of the season, Barker was slowed by an injury that limited her availability through the team’s stretch run.

Tech’s defensive stopper, Barker held the OVC’s leading scorer Chynna Bozeman to a career-low three points when Morehead State visited the Eblen Center in early January.

Barker finished the season averaging 1.5 points and 1.7 rebounds per game.

The Golden Eagles finished their season with a 14-16 record overall and 8-10 mark in conference action. Tech's 14 wins were the most since the 2005-06 season when TTU finished 23-9.