By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Tennessee Tech men's basketball team fell in its second contest of the Spartan Invitational Saturday, dropping the afternoon affair in Fleming Coliseum to Appalachian State, 69-47.
The Golden Eagles started the contest with a spark, leading 16-12 nearly halfway through the first period thanks to a 4-for-6 start from 3-point range. Two more 3-pointers from sophomore Hunter Vick, who led the purple and gold with 12 points on the day, put Tech down by just three points with just over six to play in the half.
Appalachian State took advantage of a dry spell from the Golden Eagle offense, outscoring the squad from Cookeville 10-2 over the remaining portion of the contest.
"I felt like there was an opportunity for us to really compete in this basketball game," Tech head coach John Pelphrey said. "In the first half, I believe we took about a four-point lead, and then just kind of wilted a little bit to the adversity brought by Appalachian State. I thought they got pretty physical and dominant with us and we ended up having 13 turnovers in the first half, which is way too many."
Undeterred, Tech clawed its way back from a 14-point deficit in the second have to close the Mountaineer lead to as close as six with just under 10 minutes play. A second App State run of 14 straight points proved too much for the Golden Eagles to overcome down the stretch.
"In the second half, we kind of came back, fought and got ourselves back in the game – I think it was a six-point game at one point – and there were just three or four toughness plays we didn't win," Pelphrey explained. "I think our basketball team right now has to learn to handle adversity and learn to handle these moments. We just need to become a tougher basketball team."
For the contest, Tech had success from downtown, hitting 10-of-24 tries from deep. The Golden Eagles also won the assist battle, 11-10, with freshman Keishawn Davidson and sophomore Jr. Clay leading the way with four apiece.
"This is something for us to learn from and we have another great challenge tomorrow, but we understand how much work we have to do," Pelphrey added.
The Golden Eagles will wrap up play in the Spartan Invitational Sunday morning, taking on Montana State in an 11:00 a.m. CT tilt in Fleming Gymnasium. The Bobcats enter the contest after a thrilling victory against host UNCG Saturday evening, defeating the Spartans on a half-court, buzzer beater, 67-66.
Photo by Thomas Corhern