January 2, 2011

Heady, Hayes lead Tech to 71-63 win over St. Louis

Tech heads to Morehead State for OVC showdown Thursday night

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – For the third time this season, the Tennessee Tech women’s basketball team bounced back from a loss by returning to the victory column.

The Golden Eagles used a strong defensive effort in the first half and 19 points each from freshman Molly Heady and junior Tacarra Hayes to capture a 71-63 non-conference victory from St. Louis University Sunday afternoon in Eblen Center.

It was the second game this season for St. Louis against an Ohio Valley Conference foe. The Billikens, whose record slipped to 6-9 overall, posted a 17-point win in November over Murray State.

The Golden Eagles improved to 9-3 overall, and raised their all-time record against the Atlantic 10 Conference to 7-4. The victory by coach Sytia Messer’s squad avenged a 20-point loss at St. Louis last season.

This week, the Golden Eagles hit the road in a quest to remain unbeaten in Ohio Valley Conference play with a two-game swing through Kentucky. Tech (3-0 OVC) plays at Morehead State Thursday evening and Eastern Kentucky on Saturday.

Heady was 7-for-9 from the field, including both 3-point tries, and 3-for-3 at the line on her way to a career-high 19 points. She also led Tech with seven rebounds.

Hayes finished with 19 points, nine assists, six rebounds and three steals, narrowly missing a double-double. Brittany Darling also reached double figures with 11 points on 5-for-5 shooting.

Jacy Bradley topped St. Louis with 17 points along with four assists and two steals, while Mallory Eggert added 10 points and seven rebounds.
 
Down by 17 points with 4:32 to play, St. Louis rallied in the final minutes to trim Tech’s lead to eight point, 71-63, with one minute remaining on a 3-pointer by Bradley, but the Golden Eagles maintained that score and held on for the win.

The Golden Eagle defense did the job for the first nine minutes, holding the Billikens to just one field goal (1-for-13) and forcing six turnovers on the way to building a 16-7 lead. The margin slipped upward into double digits for much of the half behind Molly Heady’s hot hand. Tech’s largest lead was 12 points, 35-23, following a three-point play by Heady with 4:05 to go. She was 4-for-6 from the field including a 3-pointer in the first half and drained all three of her free throws for a dozen markers at the break.

But St. Louis found the range in the next 10 minutes, hitting eight of its next 13 to fight its way back into the contest. A pair of 3-pointers by Jacy Bradley in the final four minutes of the half helped the Billikens pull to within five points, 37-32, with one minute left.

A twisting layup by Tacarra Hayes with 0.7 seconds to go, followed by a free throw, gave Tech a 40-32 lead at halftime. Hayes had 11 points and six assists in the first 20 minutes.

After shooting 45.2 percent in the first half, the Golden Eagles connected on 54.2 percent of their shots from the field in the second half as Darling scored nine of her 11 points after the intermission. It allowed Tech to expand its lead to as much as 20 points midway through the period. Tech was on top 60-40 following a layup by Briana Jordan with 11:14 to go.

SLU, which came into the game shooting just 32 percent this season, hit on just 37 percent in the first half but the Billikens were 13-for-25 in the second half for 52 percent accuracy.