By Rob Schabert, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – In their final home game before a brief road trip and a Christmas break, the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team got balanced scoring but lost the rebound battle and fell to Florida International by five, 70-65.
The Golden Eagles (3-7) got 13 points each from Candace Parson, Diamond Henderson and Hannah Goolsby, and 12 more from T'Keyah Williams. Kayla Brewer added nine.
Florida International (3-5), led by Jerica Coley's 25 points, had a 41-26 advantage on the glass, including 17 offensive rebounds. That led to an 18-9 difference in second-chance points, enough to account for the win. Coley, who ranks fifth in the nation with 25.9 points per game, was 8-for-17 from the field and 8-for-9 at the line. She also had seven rebounds, four assists, two blocked shots and one steal in a complete, 40-minute performance.
Also scoring in double figures for FIU, Taylor Shade had 12 while Arielle Durant added 11. Tynia McKinzie had nine points and 10 rebounds for the Panthers.
Outside of the rebounds, the stats in the game were eerily balanced. Tech had a slight edge in shooting percentage while each team made 24 field goals.
An intense first half saw the score tied five times and the lead change hands on four occasions, before the Panthers headed to the break with a 33-29 lead. That margin was due, in part, to a perfect 10-for-10 effort at the free throw line.
As expected, FIU was led on the scoreboard by Coley with 16 in the first 20 minutes. A slasher and driver, she was 5-for-9 from the field and worked her way to the line for a 5-for-5 effort.
Tech's largest lead was three points, and the Golden Eagles were up 22-21 wit 5:57 to play in the half, before FIU surged to a lead they didn't relinquish for the balance of the period. A jumper by Taylor and two free throws from Coley put FIU on top, 25-22 and they maintained that edge into intermission.
The Golden Eagles opened the second half on a 7-2 run to regain the lead, but that didn't last long. Tech worked from behind for the next 11 minutes, eventually tying the contest at 56-all with 5:12 to play. The hosts tied it one more time, 58-58 with 4:36 left, but a 3-pointer by Shade put the Panthers on top for good.
Down five, Henderson drained a 3-pointer with 21 seconds left to narrow the margin to 67-65, but the Golden Eagles could get no closer. Coley made one free throw, then Durant snared a missed 3-point try at the other end, and made two free throws for the final margin.
The Golden Eagles venture onto the road for a pair of games in Arkansas in the next four days. On Wednesday, Tech plays at Arkansas State in a game tipping off at 12 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. contest Friday at Arkansas.
Fans can listen to the action at both games on the Golden Eagle Sports Network, with Dylan Vazzano calling the play-by-play.
The team will take a Christmas break following their return from Fayetteville, and regroup to open Ohio Valley Conference play on Saturday, Dec. 28, when they host Jacksonville State in Eblen Center. That game is Putnam County Night, with residents of the county offered a one dollar ticket.