January 23, 2012

Tech shooting tops Gamecocks' rebounding as Golden Eagles win by six

Golden Eagles' next three games crucial in OVC race

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech women’s basketball team had one of its best shooting nights of the season and put three players in double figures to claim a 65-59 Ohio Valley Conference victory over Jacksonville State Monday night, giving the Golden Eagles their fourth consecutive win in Eblen Center.

Senior Tacarra Hayes led Tech (8-13/4-3 OVC) with 15 points, five rebounds and three assists while sophomore Molly Heady added 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting, five rebounds and three steals. Sophomore Jala Harris also scored in double digits with 11 points and led Tech with five assists.

Tech shot 54.2 percent in the second half to finish the game with a 47.2 percent shooting mark, the team’s third-best game of the year. That included a 6-for-16 effort from long range, also the third-best effort of the season.

The solid shooting effort helped to overcome a dominant night on the boards by the Gamecocks (4-17/1-7 OVC), who grabbed 24 offensive rebounds and finished the contest with a 50-28 margin in total rebounds.

JSU also placed three players in double figures in scoring, led by Destiny Lane with 16 points. Danielle Vaughn scored a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Brittany Manning added 10 points. Briana Morrow came up just shy of a second double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.

The Gamecocks shot 33.9 percent in the game but suffered 19 turnovers as Tech made nine steals. With their 24 offensive boards, the Gamecocks had a 18-4 advantage in second-chance points.

After the score was tied four times during the first half, the Golden Eagles put together an 8-0 run just before halftime to open a 27-19 lead before heading into the break up six points, 27-21.

Jacksonville State led once, early in the contest, when they went up 6-3 on a layup by Brianna Morrow with just 1:40 elapsed. Tech bounced back quickly with layups from Jala Harris and Tacarra Hayes, and things stayed tight for the next 13 minutes before Tech’s late run snapped a 19-19 tie.

Tech quickly built a double-figure lead in the second half when Briana Jordan’s layup with 16:56 to play made it 34-24. The lead grew to as many as 15 points in the next 10 minutes, a jumper by Harris with 6:50 to go making it a 49-34 difference.

The Golden Eagles maintained a double-figure lead into the final minute before JSU outscored Tech 7-2 in the final 27 seconds to cut the final difference to six points.

With the victory, the Golden Eagles are locked into a three-way tie for fifth place in the OVC standings at 4-3 along with Morehead State and Murray State. Eastern Illinois stands alone in first place at 6-0 with UT Martin second at 5-1, and both Eastern Kentucky and SIU Edwardsville tied for third at 5-3.

Tech’s next three assignments are against teams either tied with or just above the Golden Eagles in the OVC standings, with the first two on the road.  This tough three-game challenge begins Saturday afternoon with a 3 p.m. CT tipoff at Eastern Kentucky. Following that, the Golden Eagles will be at Morehead State Monday night for a 6 p.m. CT contest.

The next home game in Eblen Center is Wednesday, Feb. 1, when Tech will host SIU Edwardsville in a 7 p.m. CT game.