By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – It was an instant classic in the Hooper Eblen Center Tuesday evening, as the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team battled back-and-forth with visiting Wright State in an affair that needed an extra period to decide the outcome.
The Raiders (3-0) pulled out the win over the Golden Eagles (1-2), edging the purple and gold by a final score of 85-80 in overtime, but the young Tech squad showed tremendous fight against the Horizon League's preseason favorite. Neither team took a lead into double figures in a contest that saw a whopping 19 lead changes.
It was the Golden Eagles with the advantage at the break, overcoming an eight-point deficit to take a 31-27 halftime lead. In the second half, neither side could break away by more than four points, which Wright State did with 3:21 to play in the game.
Freshman Keishawn Davidson connected on a pair of free throws with three minutes to go, trimming the deficit to two. Forty seconds later, the rookie point guard pulled up from the elbow and drained the game-tying jumper just outside the paint, knotting things up at 75-75.
Neither team mustered a bucket over the final 2:25 in regulation. Raider guard Cole Gentry tried a last-second jumper, but it clanged off the rim and the clock expired before the ball bounced out of bounds.
Wright State jumped out to a five-point lead halfway through the extra period, but senior guard Darius Allen slashed the visitor lead to two with a huge bucket from beyond the arc. A Raider free throw pushed the deficit back to three, but Davidson cut through the paint and turned in a layup with 1:50 to play to make it a one-point game.
It proved the closest Tech would come in the overtime period, with Wright State sinking a jumper with 13 seconds to play to produce the final score of 85-80.
Allen, who was named the Special Olympics Player of the Game, led the Golden Eagles in scoring with a career-high 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting while Davidson added 14 points and seven assists while playing a whopping 43 minutes. Also in double figures for Tech were sophomores Jr. Clay (12 points) and Hunter Vick (10 points). Amadou Sylla led the squad with nine rebounds while also scoring eight points.
One of the keys to the contest was the battle on the boards. Wright State used its impressive length and size to out-rebound the Golden Eagles, 50-32. Tech showed improvement in the turnover department, making just 13 as compared to the 15 turned in by the Raiders.
The Golden Eagles will hit the road for a four-game stretch starting Friday, Nov. 15. Tech will head to Greensboro, N.C. for the Spartan Invitational, hosted by UNCG. The purple and gold will square off with the tournament host at 6 p.m. CT Friday evening, take on Appalachian State on Saturday with a 2:30 p.m. tilt, and face Montana State with an 11:00 a.m. match-up on Sunday.
Season tickets for Tennessee Tech basketball are on sale now. Call (931) 372-3940, visit the Hooper Eblen Center ticket office, or log on to TTUSports.com to order yours today.
Photo by Thomas Corhern