February 17, 2011

Golden Eagles clinch share of OVC crown with win over Tennessee State

Tech can win title outright with victory Saturday night

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Junior Tacarra Hayes took charge Thursday night and Tennessee Tech clinched a share of the 2011 Ohio Valley Conference championship. 

Hayes recorded her sixth double-double of the season with 25 points and 16 rebounds, and the Golden Eagles claimed a 76-62 victory over Tennessee State in Eblen Center.

Coupled with an overtime loss by UT Martin, the Golden Eagles have assured themselves at least a share of the crown. Tech (20-5/14-2 OVC) can clinch the title outright with a win Saturday against Austin Peay.

The Tigers (7-19/3-12 OVC) put up a spirited fight, leading for most of the first half and pushing Tech to the limit. Five players notched double figures for TSU, led by Kim Haynes with 14 points, six rebounds and four assists. Destiney Gaston added 13 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots, followed by Meredith Stafford wih 12, Alana Morris with 11 and Simone Hopes scored 10. 

Hayes, who also led Tech with five assists, got plenty of support. Brittany Darling had 13 points and seven rebounds, and Molly Heady (in photo above) also reached double figures, finishing with 10 points and six rebounds. Kylie Cook had five points and six rebounds and Krystal Stirrup added eight points and six rebounds as Tech owned a commanding 56-33 advantage on the glass.

 The Tigers roared out to an early lead, breaking a 2-2 tie to go up 7-2. Tech scratched back to within one point, 19-18, but TSU used back-to-back jumpers to regain a 23-18 edge. The visitors' lead grew to seven points, 27-20, before Tech charged back to within one again, 27-26.

It took more than 17 minutes for the Golden Eagles to gain the lead for the first time, a driving layup by Krystal Stirrup – and a free throw – with 2:27 left in the first half that put the home team on top, 33-30.

The largest first-half lead for Tech was five points, 37-32, with 55 seconds to play before the break. Tech led by a basket, 37-35, at halftime.

Tennessee State tied the game four times in the first five minutes of the second half, before the Golden Eagles took the lead for good on a pair of free throws by Hayes, who was 9-for-12 at the line.

The Golden Eagles slowly built their lead into double digits, getting up 61-51 with 7:02 remaining on another Hayes charity toss. The largest margin was 16 points, which Tech achieved twice in the final two minutes, before settling for the final 14-point edge.

The Golden Eagles will host Austin Peay Saturday at 5:30 p.m. to open a doubleheader, followed by the Tech men against Gardner-Webb. The event will be Think Pink Night, and fans are encouraged to wear pink in support of increasing breast cancer awareness.

It's also Pack The House Night in Eblen Center.

For tickets or information, please call the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center at (931) 372-3940.