Tech clinches No. 3 seed with 66-51 win over Eastern Kentucky

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech women's basketball team used balanced scoring, a big run in the first half and stingy defense from start to finish on the way to a 66-51 Ohio Valley Conference victory over Eastern Kentucky Saturday night in Eblen Center.

With the victory, the Golden Eagles (14-15/10-5 OVC) have clinched the No. 3 seed in the OVC Tournament and a first-round bye on opening night. Tech's first game in the tourney will come in the quarterfinals on Thursday, March 1 at Nashville's Municipal Auditorium.

The Golden Eagles have one regular season game remaining next Saturday (Feb. 25) against Murray State.

Eastern Kentucky (12-13/7-7 OVC), meanwhile, slipped into a real puzzle in the middle of the OVC standings with two games remaining.

Junior Jala Harris topped Tech in scoring with 17 points, including a perfect 8-for-8 at the free throw line. Senior Tacarra Hayes added 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists and senior Rachel Glidden netted 12 points and grabbed six rebounds. Freshman T'Keyah Williams, making her first career start, grabbed six boards.

Alex Jones was the top scorer for EKU with 13 points, along with seven rebounds. Six other Colonels scored between five and eight points, led by LaRa'e Allen with eight points and seven rebounds.

Other than a pair of one-point leads midway in the first half, Tech led the entire contest.

Things remained extremely tight for the first 12 minutes before the Golden Eagles pieced together a 14-0 run that erased a 19-18 Colonel lead. Trailing by one, Harris hit a three, Hayes a jumper and Brittany Darling drained back-to-back layups to make it 27-19. Hayes added another runner, and Glidden canned a three-point play with 2:40 remaining in the half and the Golden Eagles were up, 32-19.

The largest lead of the first half was 14 when Tech was up 35-21 with 42 second left before two EKU free throws made it a 12-point game at the intermission.

Tech shot a scorching 51.9 percent from the field in the first half (14-for-27) while EKU connected on 23.1 percent (6-for-26). A 9-for-10 effort at the line kept the Colonels in the game.

Tech maintained a double digit lead nearly the entire second half. The Colonels used a 7-2 stretch to cut the difference down to seven, 41-34, following a 3-pointer by Carla Booth, but two minutes later Molly Head scored a jumper and the lead was back to double figures for the remaining 10:41 of the contest.  Tech pushed the lead to 17 on three occasions, the largest margin of the contest, before heading off the court with the 15-point win.

After hitting 51.9 percent in the first half, Tech cooled off to 38.5 percent in the second to finish the game with a 45.3 mark overall.  EKU hit 23 percent in the opening half and 32.1 percent in the second for a game mark of 27.8 percent.

EKU had a slim 38-37 edge in rebounds. Tech had only nine turnovers in the contest and EKU had just 12.  

The Golden Eagles will take a full week to prepare for their final regular season game, hosting Murray State in an Ohio Valley Conference doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 25. Tipoff of the women's game is at 5:30 p.m., and doors to Eblen Center will open at 4:30 p.m.

Because of an expected large crowd, Tech students have been asked to pick up tickets in advance. As of Friday, less than 400 lower bowl student  tickets remained for the game. Tickets are free for Tech students by showing a valid TTU ID.

Non-student lower bowl tickets are sold out. Tech is currently selling tickets to the public in the upper bowl.

For ticket information, please call (931) 372-3940 or visit the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center weekdays during regular business hours.