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January 12, 2013

History repeats itself... almost: Tech downs SIUE in dominant fashion

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. -- History repeats itself... well, almost. Last season the Golden Eagles came out firing against the Cougars, but took a backseat in the second half as SIU Edwardsville pulled off two wins last season, one in overtime. Tech again entered the Vadalabene Center with cannons blazing, and again, the Cougars entered the second half ready to take over the game, but unlike the past, the Golden Eagles parted the Red Sea and picked up a huge 66-56 road win. 

The Golden Eagles shot 51 percent from the floor, and dished out 18 team assists, tying a season high. The Purple and Gold were led by Jala Harris who put up 26 points tying her career high at Tech. Harris dished out seven assists of her own, and committed just two turnovers in 33 minutes of play. Lashay Davis gathered four steals for the Golden Eagles and countless loose balls. Davis added six assists and 10 points along with four rebounds. 

Defensively, the Golden Eagles blocked three shots, a season high, and forced 12 SIUE Turnovers. SIUE was held to 31.5 percent from the floor, andwas allowed just one three point shot. The key to the Cougars game was 25 trips to the charity stripe. 

The Cougars were the first to draw blood, but the Golden Eagles came right back with a three-pointer by Katherine Barker as the shot clock expired. The Purple and Gold never trailed for the remainder of the half. Thanks to quick ball movement, Tech found their teammates wide open for shots under the basket. SIU Edwardsville attempted to make adjustments, but as they packed the paint, Harris drained a wide open three showing Tech's strength behind the perimeter The Golden Eagles shot 51 percent in the half.

SIU Edwardsville was able to remain in the game thanks to Raven Berry. The 6-0 sophomore far out-sized the Golden Eagles in the paint, and her body underneath the hoop helped her to collect five offensive rebounds in the first half, and 10 points in the paint. 

At a media timeout, the crowd sat silenced having just witnessedHarris scoring her ninth point of the game after driving through three defenders. Coach Davis preached to his team the need to get physical on the boards, and the game changed. For each rebound, the Golden Eagles surged to the hoop, and found themselves bumped, bruised and battle scarred, but in control of the ball.  Candace Parson came into the game and made her presence known. Posting up against Berry Parson, she scored sparking a 3-0 run with just under 10 minutes to play. 

Tech continued to run away with the game, thanks to precision shooting and went into the locker room with a 36-25 lead over the Cougars at half-time. 

Davis drained a long three to open the half extending the lead to 14, but after a few shot exchanges the Cougars went on an 11-3 run pulling within six points thanks to Tech fouls. SIUE came into the game as one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the conference, shooting just 62 percent from the charity stripe. In Saturday's game, they shot 70.6 percent, close to a season high. 

As the game appeared to get tight, Tech forced four turnovers in four possessions thanks to Davis. She found her teammates for four points off turnovers.  The Cougars would inch closer, but Tech pushed the tempo of the game and kept a 10 point cushion until 4:39 left. SIUE again benefited from Tech fouls. Berry found her way to the free throw line, marking the 17th time the Cougars made an appearance at the charity stripe with over four minutes to play. 

The Cougars would continue to pressure Tech, but the Golden Eagles remained unphased holding a nine point lead with 1:19 remaining in the game. SIUE would employ a press, but Tech would breeze through triple coverage and find Parson wide open for a fast break giving Tech a 63-52 edge. 

With just over 30 seconds to play, SIUE's Jazmin Hill sunk a three, and the Cougars appeared to be in the hunt for another comeback, but the Golden Eagles stifled any chance of an SIUE win.

Tech held the Cougars to just eight field goals in the second half, and a 31 percent field goal percentage. 

Tech, the only remaining undefeated team in the Ohio Valley Conference, returns to action Jan. 14 at Eastern Illinois. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. The Panthers sit atop the West Division. Monday's contest will be a battle of the best, certainly one for the record books.