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Golden Eagles reach million fans in Eblen Center, outlast Tennessee Wesleyan

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – More than one million fans have now watched the Tennessee Tech women’s basketball team play throughout the past 36 years in Eblen Center, the all-time total topping that milestone on Monday night.

Coach Sytia Messer’s team made sure the most recent crowd of 861 had another good time with a 66-52 Golden Eagle victory over Tennessee Wesleyan, but it was certainly an interesting evening. Tech (2-2) was only able to shake loose from a pesky Bulldog (4-3) squad in the final nine minutes.

The Golden Eagles used a 10-2 run in the second half to pry open a double-figure lead that they maintained for the final 8:47 of the game.

Six players recorded eight points or more as Tech saw its most balanced scoring effort of the season. Redshirt freshman Candace Parson led the way with 13 points while Tacarra Hayes had 10 points and five rebounds. Briana Jordan, Kylie Cook, T’Keyah Williams and Brittany Darling all added eight. Molly Heady led Tech on the boards with seven as the Golden Eagles held a slim 32-30 edge in rebounds.

Three players hit double digits for the Bulldogs, led by Michelle Davis with 14. Leah Frazier finished with 11 points and seven assists while Cody Houck scored 10. Candace Cain scored eight and had four assists. Heather Gibson had seven rebounds for Tennessee Wesleyan and Rochelle Davidson grabbed six.

Tech scooted out to a quick 5-0 lead to open the game, but Tennessee Wesleyan soon turned the tables. A jumper by Houck with 17:03 to play put the visitors on top and they went on to lead by as many as eight points in the first half.

A three-pointer by Frazier followed by three points from Cain made it a 25-17 lead for the Bulldogs with 10 minutes on the first half clock.

Hayes and Darling each scored a pair of baskets and Tech came back to tie the contest, 25-25, with 6:52 to play before the break, and the Golden Eagles went up by six a couple of times before heading to the intermission with a four-point advantage, 35-31.

A layup by Cain to open the second period made it a two-point difference, but Tech used a 9-0 run to build an 11-point lead. Parson scored seven of the nine during the run.

Tech double-digit lead still wasn’t safe as Davis drained a 3-pointer and Frazier added to free throws to pull the Bulldogs to within five at 44-39, with 13:13 remaining.

Kylie Cook hit a couple of 3-pointers in the next four minutes to help regain a double-figure edge, the second coming with 8:47 remaining to make it 55-44. The largest difference was 15 points at 61-46 with 5:17 to play.

The Tech defense forced 26 Bulldog turnovers and Tech held a 28-10 edge in points scored off turnovers, the only lopsided number in the contest.

The Golden Eagles venture back on the road on Wednesday when they visit their long-time, in-state rival Middle Tennessee State. Tipoff in the Murphy Center in Murfreesboro is 7 p.m.

Tech’s next home contest is a Saturday night matchup with Western Carolina in the Eblen Center. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.

Season tickets, and individual game tickets, are on sale at the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center or by calling (931) 372-3940. Tickets may also be purchased online at TTUsports.com.