Tech ends road swing at Jacksonville State; hosts Belmont

Tech ends road swing at Jacksonville State; hosts Belmont

By Layne Weitzel, TTU Sports Information

JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – Tennessee Tech will split its time between road and home this coming week, wrapping up a three-game road trip.

Tech tips off at Jacksonville State on Thursday, Feb. 8 in its third Education Day game at 11:30 a.m. CT and will return home to Cookeville for its Think Pink game with Belmont on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 5:30 p.m. CT.

Tech begins this season's home-and-home series with Jacksonville State a little late this year, as the Golden Eagles will also host the Gamecocks in the final game of the regular season on Feb. 24. The two teams split their pair of meetings last year – Tech won a close 56-54 game at home, and Jacksonville State took the 57-44 win in Alabama. Tech is 20-9 all-time against Jacksonville State and 9-5 in Jacksonville, but the Golden Eagles have lost their last four contests at JSU.
The Golden Eagles host Belmont after traveling to Nashville on Jan. 4 for their first road trip in conference play. Tech fell 78-59 after a troublesome first quarter but went on to outscore the Bruins 52-51 in the remaining three quarters. Tech turned over the ball a season-low 13 times, and MacKenzie Coleman put up the first double-double of her career with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Tech is now 25-19 against Belmont, including 9-5 in Cookeville.
PROMOTIONS vs. Belmont
  • Play4Kay – Fans are encouraged to wear pink in honor of cancer awareness. The team will also wear special pink uniforms and shoes.
Tech embarked on its longest road trip of the season last week, traveling to Illinois to split a pair of games with SIUE and Eastern Illinois.
Tech faced the Cougars late Thursday morning in the team's second Education Day game of the season. SIUE pulled ahead by its biggest lead, 18 points, with just 2:21 to go in the third quarter, but Tech chipped away at its deficit. Thanks to a 9-0 run, the Golden Eagles cut the lead down to 60-55 with 44 seconds left in the game. However, SIUE hit five free throws to preserve its win 65-58.
The Golden Eagles had outscored SIUE 35-30 and out-rebounded the host team 27-18 in the second half alone. Coleman had a standout day for Tech, leading all players with a career-high 22 points, a career-high-tying 12 rebounds and five blocks for her fourth double-double of the season.
After not having the best of luck in close games before, Tech turned things around on Saturday at Eastern Illinois. Jordan Brock scored the game-winning layup with 12 seconds left in the final quarter, and the Golden Eagles would go on to win the game 60-57 for their first road and second conference win of the season. Tech had not beaten Eastern Illinois in Charleston since Jan. 27, 2011.
Four Golden Eagles scored in double-figures. Abby Buckner, making her first start since November, tallied a career-best 14 points and eight rebounds and also added two steals. Coleman led the team with her second-straight double-double and fifth of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Yaktavia "Shug" Hickson and Brock followed offensively with 12 and 10 points respectively.
Another struggle Tech had as of late were free throws, but the Golden Eagles crushed their previous season-best in team free-throw percentage on Saturday. Tech made 17 of its 18 tries at the line to finish the game with 94.4 percent.
Earlier this week, Coleman was named as the newest adidas® OVC Freshman of the Week. She is the third different Tech freshman to receive the honor this season alone, which has only happened twice in the history of the award.
at Jacksonville State
Thursday, Feb. 8, 11:30 a.m. CT
Live stream: OVC Digital Network
vs. Belmont
Saturday, Feb. 10, 5:30 p.m. CT
Live stream: OVC Digital Network
Local TV broadcast: WCTE
Jacksonville State Gamecocks (14-9, 8-4 OVC)
  • 2016-17 record: 13-15, 6-10 Ohio Valley Conference (finished 10th in the regular season)
  • Notables: Jacksonville State has already surpassed its overall and conference win totals from last season and sits in a three-way tie for third in the OVC, but the Gamecocks have done it all without a single player scoring in double-figures (both overall and in conference play). JSU is the only OVC program to lack a double-figure scorer. Rayven Pearson leads the team in all games with 8.8 points, and Taylor Hawks leads in conference games with 9.8 points… Jacksonville State's leading 3-point shooter, Gretchen Morrison, is just 12 away from 200 3-pointers in her career. She ranks sixth in the conference with an average of 2.2 per game, although she was held without one on Saturday against SIUE.

Belmont Bruins (22-3, 12-0 OVC)

  • 2016-17 record: 27-6, 16-0 Ohio Valley Conference (won the regular-season title; defeated 7-seed Eastern Kentucky 94-64 in the tournament championship)
  • Notables: Belmont sits just outside the latest Associated Press poll top-25 rankings, which were released Monday afternoon. The Bruins have gradually climbed up the poll and most recently earned 28 votes, which marks the second-most they've received in program history. Belmont is also the second-highest ranked mid-major behind No. 20 Green Bay… At the end of January, the National Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame named Belmont junior Darby Maggard as one of 10 finalists for the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award, which honors the top shooting guard in NCAA Division I women's college basketball. Maggard ranks 16th nationally in 3-point field goals per game and ninth in assist/turnover ratio.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information