Post play, Henderson lead Tech to OVC win over Tigers

Post play, Henderson lead Tech to OVC win over Tigers

By Rob Schabert, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech led nearly the entire second half, but had to fend off a valiant rally in the final minute by Tennessee State as the Golden Eagles earned a pivotal 79-75 Ohio Valley Conference victory in Eblen Center Monday night.

Strong play in the paint keyed the victory, led by seven blocked shots from Kayla Brewer and a career-high 20 points from Candace Parson.

Locked in a tight race in the league's East Division, Tech (9-14/6-4 OVC) improved to 5-1 at home in conference play while staying within a half-game of first place. It was Tech's ninth victory in a row over the Tigers.

Tennessee State (8-14/5-4 OVC) was denied a chance to win three consecutive games for the first time this season.

Junior Diamond Henderson led all scorers with 25 points for the Golden Eagles, and added six rebounds, five assists and three steals in a stellar all-around effort. Parson added a career-high 20 points on 8-for-13 shooting from the field.

While they were the only two Golden Eagles to score in double digits, several teammates chipped in with key numbers. Molly Heady added nine points and four assists, Brewer had nine rebounds and a career-best seven blocked shots, and Catherine Taylor notched six points, five rebounds and a career-best four assists.

Sophomore Mariah Dean, making her first career start, chipped in with six points, two steals and a blocked shot.

Four Tigers reached double figures, topped by Brianna Lawrence with 19 while hitting 5-for-8 from outside the arc. Rachel Allen and Chelsea Hudson each recorded double-doubles. Allen had 12 points and 10 assists, while Hudson added 11 points and 10 rebounds. Imani Davis finished with 10 points.

The Golden Eagles sizzled in the second half, shooting 61.9 percent (13-for-21) from the field to finish the contest hitting a season-best 55.1 percent.

That effort helped Tech pull out to a 12-point lead when Parson scored a layup with 5:43 to go for a 69-57 count.

Trailing by 10 with 3:10 to go, Allen and Lawrence each hit 3-pointers as the Tigers went on a 10-3 run to pull within three points, 76-73, with 27 seconds left. Two free throws by Parson with 23 seconds left made it five, a layup by Davis cut it back to three with 17 seconds left, and Hannah Goolsby's free throw with 16 seconds accounted for the final margin.

Down four, the Tigers stole the ball with 10 seconds remaining but missed a layup and Taylor snatched the rebound that allowed the Golden Eagles to run out the final ticks.

Tennessee State led pretty much the entire first 15 minutes of the game, and the Golden Eagles had the edge the final five minutes of the first half, taking a 39-37 lead into the break. The Tigers led by as many as seven early on, 10-3, before Tech caught up and took a lead with 4:18 to play on a bucket by Parson. Tech's largest lead of the first half was five points, at 33-28, with 2:47 remaining.

The Golden Eagles face a light week of action, with just one game in the next 12 days. On Saturday, Tech will visit Jacksonville State for a 2 p.m. contest, the second game of a doubleheader following a men's 11 a.m. battle.

Fans who don't make the journey to the game can follow the action via the live broadcast on the Golden Eagle Sports Network. The game will also be streamed live on the OVC Digital Network, and live stats will be provided by JSU.

Tech's next home game isn't until Saturday, Feb. 15, when Morehead State visits for a doubleheader, with several special events planned.