NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech torched the nets in the first five minutes and cruised the rest of the way to a convincing 69-55 Ohio Valley Conference victory at Tennessee State Saturday night during Kids Night in the Gentry Center.
Tech's fifth consecutive victory kept the Golden Eagles in first place in the OVC with an 8-1 league record at the midway point in the 2011 conference schedule. Tech maintains a one-game edge on Morehead State and UT Martin. The Golden Eagles improved to 14-4 overall, matching their victory total for all of last season (14-16).
"I was proud of our kids for coming out and delivering the first punch," said head coach Sytia Messer. "TSU is the most athletic team in our conference, and for us to step up and defend the way we did in the first half made the difference.
"We got some key rebounding out of several players and got a lead, and that gave us an opportunity to work on some things we wanted to correct," Messer said.
"We kept reminding our players to not let TSU get their fans involved in the game, and we did a good job of that. We controlled the game and played great defense in the first five minutes, and that made it easier for the next 35 minutes."
The Golden Eagles enjoyed noisy support in the stands from a large contingent of Tech fans who filled a fan bus to the doubleheader.
The TSU Tigers, who dropped their fifth straight game, saw their record slip to 5-14 overall and 2-6 within the OVC.
Four players reached double figures in the scoring column, while junior post Brittany Darling missed a double-double by a single point, finishing with nine points and 12 rebounds.
Tacarra Hayes topped Tech in points with 14, to go along with four rebounds, three assists and three steals. Kellie Cook added 13 points and three assists, freshman Briana Jordan netted 12 and led Tech with five assists, and Kylie Cook contributed 10 points.
TSU was led by Tayla Foster with 12 points while both Meredith Stafford and Jasmine Brimm scored 10 points. Avery Jones finished with nine.
Tech started the game hitting 80 percent of its shots through the first five minutes, and was hitting 75 percent (15-for-20) late in the half on the way to an early double-digit lead. The Golden Eagles finished the game at 54 percent (29-for-54), despite going 29 percent (4-for-14) from long distance.
Tennessee State shot 33 percent (16-for-49) from the field, including 43 percent from outside the arc (6-for-14).
Tech held a 38-25 edge in rebounds but the Golden Eagles committed 23 turnovers. TSU had 16 turnovers.
The largest lead of the game was 24 points in the second half before the Tigers whittled it down to the final 14-point margin.
The Golden Eagles head north next week to play at Eastern Illinois Thursday night and Southeast Missouri on Saturday. Tech's next home game will be Thursday, Feb. 3, against Eastern Kentucky.
Fans can hear coach Messer's views on the game on Monday at the weekly Sideline Luncheon in the Eagles Nest of Eblen Center, beginning at 11:30 a.m. Call (931) 372-3940 Monday morning for details.