COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- It's difficult to determine just which aspect was better Thursday, Tennessee Tech's offense or its defense. Either way, the Golden Eagles put together a complete effort and subdued a dangerous old rival, Samford, 65-56, in Eblen Center.
With the win, the Golden Eagles brought their overall record back to the .500 mark at 4-4. Samford, a former Ohio Valley Conference foe that now plays in the Southern Conference, moved to 5-3.
Senior Jala Harris led the Tech attack with 20 points in addition to five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Diamond Henderson also netted double figures with 12. Molly Heady added eight points and led Tech with seven rebounds, while Kellie Cook and Lashay Davis scored eight each.
Shelby Campbell was the top scorer for Samford, fouling out with 16 points and six rebounds. Reece Taylor added 14 points, five rebounds and a team-high four assists. Hannah Dawson's seven rebounds led Samford on the glass.
It was during the first half when Tech's long-range shooters were blazing that the Golden Eagles took control of the contest.
Tech lit it up from long range and scored some inside, too, in pulling ahead by a many as 18 points. The TTU defense, meanwhile, forced Samford into nine first half turnovers and wouldn't allow the Bulldogs to mount any momentum as the hosts took a 32-21 lead into halftime.
After Samford tied things early at 8-8, the Golden Eagles went on a nearly flawless, 20-2 run to build a 28-10 lead with eight minutes remaining in the first half. Tech made its first six 3-point tries in the half.
The Bulldogs bounced back with a 13-0 stretch, including a pair of 3-pointers and five points from Shelby Campbell, pulling to within seven at 28-21 with 2:20 remaining.
Tech added layups from Molly Heady and Jala Harris to regain the double-figure advantage at the break.
Tech surged back on top by 16 early in the second half and maintained a double figure lead for nearly the entire first 17 minutes, but Samford got a 3-pointer from Kendall Schwantz with 2:10 to play to pull within seven, 61-54.
That was it, though, as the Golden Eagles held on for the win.
The rest of the month is a road adventure for the Golden Eagles, who don't play at home again in Eblen Center until Saturday, Jan. 5. In the meantime, coach Jim Davis and his troupe will play six road contests, with their travels landing them in North Carolina, New York City, West Virginia, Alabama and Memphis.
GOLDEN NUGGETS: Tech was the third Ohio Valley Conference opponent this year for Samford, a former member of the OVC. The Bulldogs had a three-point win at Jacksonville State and a 17-point loss at home against Tennessee State…Samford's roster included three players from Tennessee while the Tech roster has three from Alabama…Tech's starting lineup Thursday was the fifth different group in eight game this year.