By Holly Weber, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn.—The Tennessee Tech women's basketball team (10-16, 7-6 OVC) fell to undefeated conference rival Belmont (21-5, 13-0 OVC), 85-66, in Saturday's "Think Pink" game on Saturday. The victory clinched the OVC regular season title for the Bruins and brought the series score to 25-18, still in favor of the Golden Eagles.
"Belmont is a very good basketball team," head coach Kim Rosamond remarked. "You have to give credit to their players and their staff. They are 13-0 in this league for a reason. They don't give you a lot of margin for error, especially on the defensive end. The game can be summed up in two numbers, and that's 42 points from the three and 19 second-chance points."
Belmont took a commanding lead to open the first quarter, pulling ahead 20-9 at the 4:14 mark with a three from Darby Maggard. From there, the Bruins went on a 5-2 run to close out the first quarter and add secure a 25-11 lead over the Golden Eagles. Into the second quarter, Belmont kept the pressure on and extended their lead out to 29-16 with a layup from Sally McCabe with 5:45 on the clock. Tech attempted to recover their deficit, pulling within 10 points of the Bruins at 34-24 with a jumper from Anacia Wilkinson and 2:31 remaining in the quarter, however, Belmont continued to hold strong and extended their lead out to 43-26 with a Kylee Smith bucket from downtown heading into the second half.
"I think we've shown great improvement over the last month and a half," Rosamond said. "We are growing as a program and we are not where we want to be yet and we have a lot of work to do still. But we've done a lot of good things too and have the chance to finish really strong."
At the break, the Golden Eagles were shooting 39.3 percent from the field, 20 percent from beyond the arc, and 75 percent from the free throw line while the Bruins were shooting 60.7 percent from the floor and 69.2 percent from the three-point range. Belmont's Smith went 6-for-6 from downtown in the first half, while Maggard added 3-for-5 from the three-point range. The Golden Eagles grabbed 14 rebounds to the Bruins' 15 and each team allowed six turnovers.
As third quarter play resumed, Tech began to turn things around and went on a 7-1 run to cut the Belmont lead down 12 at 44-32 with a three from Yaktavia "Shug" Hickson with 8:09 on the clock. However, Belmont regrouped and extended their lead back out to 19 at 54-35 with a layup from Lauren Thompson at the 4:52 mark. From there, the Bruins closed out the third quarter with a 15-point lead at 62-47 with a layup from Maddie Wright at the buzzer.
Belmont continued to preserve their lead into the fourth as they held on to a 15-point lead at 68-53 with 7:04 remaining in the contest. The Bruins continued to capitalize and pulled ahead by 22 at 75-53 with a layup from Kylee Smith and 4:32 on the clock. From there, Belmont pulled ahead by 25 at 82-57 at the 1:42 mark, and kept Tech at bay closing out the contest with an 85-66 victory, extending their undefeated conference play streak.
Hickson led the Golden Eagles with 24 points in the contest, connecting on 3-of-5 at the free throw line with three buckets from downtown. Goolsby tallied 15 points and five rebounds for Tech, while teammate Treyvonna "Trey" Brooks added 14 points, six rebounds, and four blocks (which tied her career-best) to the Golden Eagle efforts. Maggard and Smith each contributed 24 points to the Bruins victory. Maggard with eight three's in the contest and Smith totaling six from beyond the arc. Two other Belmont players found themselves in double figures: Thompson collected 11 points, while teammate Sally McCabe added 10 points and seven rebounds.
As a team, the Golden Eagles shot 39.4 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from the three-point range, and 66.7 percent from the charity stripe while the Bruins shot 58.5 percent from the floor, 63.6 percent from downtown, and 47.4 percent from the free throw line. Three-point buckets made the difference in the contest with Belmont connecting on 14-of-22 from beyond the arc to Tech's 6-of-18. The Bruins also out-rebounded the Golden Eagles by a 39-28 margin, however, Tech forced 17 Belmont turnovers while allowing just nine.
"There are still a lot of important basketball games to be played," Rosamond continued. "We put ourselves in a position to be successful moving forward. We can't sit and rest. A lot is going to be worked out in the next two weeks and it's going to go down to the last basketball game of the season for just about every team in the league with the exception of Belmont. I believe we have the ability to finish in the top two or three or down to the bottom part. I think if this team plays to its capabilities and our effort and energy is there every night then we can beat anybody in this league, but if we don't anyone in this league can beat us."
The Golden Eagles return to action on Saturday, Feb. 18, when Tech takes on Jacksonville State in a 4:30 p.m. contest in Jacksonville, Ala.
Photo by Thomas Corhern