Golden Eagles tripped in overtime in OVC championship game


NASHVILLE – A gritty, gutsy fight-to the-finish effort by Tennessee Tech made it all the way into overtime, but the Golden Eagles just couldn’t find the range in the extra session and eventually dropped an 87-80 decision to UT Martin in the championship game of the 2013 Ohio Valley Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament.

Five players scored in double figures for Tech, topped by senior Jala Harris with 19 along with seven assists. Senior Lashay Davis added 15 points and six rebounds, sophomore Diamond Henderson added 14 points and four assists, junior Molly Heady contributed 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds and senior Kylie Cook scored 11 with six rebounds and four assists.

Harris (photo below) and Henderson (photo above) were named to the five-player all-tournament team.

UT Martin was led by tournament MVP Jasmine Newsome with 34, while Heather Butler added 24 and Rickiesha Bryant had 20 points and 12 rebounds.

A tight first half rolled through 18 minutes with neither team getting any kind of advantage. The Skyhawks surged ahead by eight late in the half, 37-28, before taking a seven-point lead into halftime.

The Skyhawks were up by nine early in the second half, and Tech played from behind for most of the period. Tech finally knotted the score at 67-all with 5:10 to play as Harris fired through three consecutive 3-pointers to spark a 9-2 Tech run.

A 3-pointer by Davis put Tech on top by three, 70-67, with 4:04 remaining. Tech led by three once more, 72-69, with 3:01 to go on a layup by Heady.

Tech was still up by one, 72-71, with 12 seconds to play when UTM was forced to foul to put Tech on the free throw line. The problem for the Skyhawks was, UTM had only three fouls in the second half. UT Martin went an impossible 19 minutes and 20 seconds of the game with only one foul called against them.

Four fouls later on inbounds plays and Lashay Davis went to the line, where she made one for a 73-71 lead with 9.2 seconds left. When she missed the second, Newsome took the ball the length of the floor and made a layup with two seconds to go to tie the game and force the overtime.

The Skyhawks controlled the overtime, pulling ahead by as many as eight as Tech went 2-for-8 from the floor.

Tech set a school record by attempting 41 3-pointers in the contest, connecting on 13 for 31.7 percent. The Golden Eagles shot 43.8 percent in the first half and 41.9 percent in the second, and finished the game hitting 40.8 percent overall. Tech owned a 43-35 advantage on the glass, including 19 offensive rebounds.

UTM, which had a huge advantage at the free throw line (18-9), shot 52.9 percent in the first half, 40 percent in the second half and 60 percent in overtime to finish the game with a 48.4 percent mark.  UTM was 18-for-19 at the free throw line for 94.7 percent. Tech was 9-for-11 at the line for 81.9 percent.

Tech will now await its post-season fate, which will not be known until Monday, March 18, when the NCAA and NIT fields are announced.