By Layne Weitzel, TTU Sports Information
NASHVILLE – Defending Ohio Valley Conference regular-season and tournament champion Belmont proved its league dominance on its home court Thursday night, leading Tennessee Tech 27-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Although the game ended with a final score of 78-59 Bruins, Tennessee Tech scrapped its way through the remaining three quarters, outscoring Belmont 52-51 in the team's first OVC road game this season and first road game in over a month.
"It's been our Achilles' heel the first three games," head coach Kim Rosamond said of Tech's first-quarter deficit. "We dug a hole the first quarter. We spotted the best team in the league a 20-point lead. We've got to fix it. We've got to figure it out. The slow starts are killing us. I thought we were ready to play, we were focused, we were ready in warm-ups, we came out and had really good energy. One or two bad things happen… and we just let it start to snowball."
The Golden Eagles steadily became more and more comfortable with their shooting as the game went on. The team shot just 22.2 percent in the first quarter, but improved to 37.5 percent in the second quarter, 43.8 in the third and 53.8 percent in the fourth.
Tech also turned the ball over just 13 times, a new season-low, with six coming in the first quarter alone.
Freshman MacKenzie Coleman recorded the first double-double of her collegiate career, as well as the team's first of the season. The freshman post, who matched up throughout the game with Belmont (13-3, 3-0 OVC) counterpart and two-time OVC Defensive Player of the Year Sally McCabe, scored 17 points and totaled a career-high 11 rebounds. It was the first double-double from a Golden Eagle since then-senior Hannah Goolsby collected 16 points and 10 rebounds against Morehead State on Feb. 20, 2017.
"Obviously that's a bright spot," said Rosamond. "She did that against the best post in the league. I thought MacKenzie struggled at first, really settled down, adjusted and gained some confidence tonight. She just keeps getting better and better."
Fellow freshman Jordan Brock also scored in double-figures for her sixth-straight game, finishing with 16 points and a team-leading four 3-pointers. Yaktavia "Shug" Hickson was perfect from 3-point range, going 3-for-3, and totaling 11 points and five rebounds. Asia Harper also had five rebounds for Tech.
"We're going to be a good basketball team," said Rosamond. "You see it in spurts, and you see how good we can be. We've got to have a breakthrough. We need a game where we break out in the first two quarters, and we're not down 10, 15 points going into halftime and feeling like you're having to play catch-up. We've done that for the first three games. We know what the pattern is, and we've got to be mentally tougher and start faster."