Long Island holds off Tech in Eblen Center WNIT tilt

Golden Eagles to host Tennessee Wesleyan Monday night

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Long Island used a 16-0 run midway in the second half to erase a double-digit deficit and take a lead, then held off a late rally by Tennessee Tech to claim a 62-60 victory over the Golden Eagles in a Preseason WNIT contest in Eblen Center Friday night.

The Blackbirds (2-1) used an effective inside-outside combination to claim the road win. Senior post Ashley Palmer topped LIU with 23 points and eight rebounds, while guard Krystal Wells added 16 points, hitting 4-of-7 from long range.  Guard Ebony Davis also reached double figures with 10, including 6-for-7 at the free throw line.

Senior Tacarra Hayes topped Tech (1-2) with 17 points while redshirt freshman Candace Parson added 10 points. Point guard Briana Jordan scored eight points and dished out four assists, and three players – Kellie Cook, T’Keyah Williams and Molly Heady -- hit seven each for Tech.

The Golden Eagles had a slightly better shooting performance, hitting 41.7 percent compared with 40 percent by Long Island, but the Blackbirds held a 38-28 advantage in rebounds. Tech managed just one 3-pointer (1-for-7) in the contest.  

The Golden Eagles appeared to gain momentum in the second half, turning up the defensive pressure on the way to building an 11-point lead. When Jordan poked the ball loose on the defensive end and grabbed a long pass from Cook to hit the layup, the host team was on top, 47-36.

But turnovers caught up with Tech during a seven-minute stretch and the Blackbirds stormed back with a 16-0 run to stake themselves to a 52-47 lead with just under eight minutes to play. Wells hit eight points in the run, including a pair of 3-pointers.

Tech stopped the run with a pair of free throws from Parson, and T’Keyah Williams added another at the charity stripe to trim the difference to a two-point game, 52-50.  

Tech finally got things even with 3:36 to play as Jordan hit a jumper to tie the game, and Hayes followed with layup 52 seconds later to put the Golden Eagles on top, 58-56, wth 2:44 to play.

Marika Sprow’s layup at the 2:11 mark tied things for the ninth time, and Tech missed two chances to reclaim the lead over the next 1:23. With 48 seconds to go, Palmer’s layup lifted the Blackbirds to a 60-58 lead. She’tiarra Pledger made two free throws with 16 left and Hayes hit a pair for the Golden Eagles with seven seconds remaining to account for the final tally.

Tech raced out to an early seven-point lead to open the game, jumping on top 14-7 just six minutes into the contest as Diamond Henderson hit back-to-back jumpers.

Long Island came back with a 14-2 run to flip the scoreboard and claim a five-point lead, 21-16, with 7:11 remaining. Wells scored all eight of her points in that five-minute stretch.

The Golden Eagles knotted the game for the fifth time in the half on a jumper by Cook to make it 30-30 with 32 seconds remaining, before LIU used two free throws by Palmer with 6.6 seconds left to take a 32-30 lead into halftime.

Palmer led the Blackbirds in the first half, dropping in a dozen points before the break while Wells added eight in the opening frame. Tech had balance in its scoring column in the first half with Cook and Molly Heady notching seven each and Candace Parson adding six.  

Tech has little time to reflect on the rare homecourt loss, stepping back onto the floor in Eblen Center Monday night in a 7 p.m. game against Tennessee Wesleyan.

Tickets are on sale at the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center or by calling (931) 372-3940.