By Nate Perry, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech women's basketball team regained its early-season moxie in Saturday's thrilling road win over Ohio Valley Conference power UT Martin, and will now welcome four consecutive league opponents to the Eblen Center over the next two weeks, starting with Jacksonville State on Thursday night at 5:30 p.m.
JUST LIKE THE FIRST TIME
All four of Tech's upcoming home games will be rematches. The Golden Eagles beat three of the four teams on the road the first time around, which included a smothering defensive effort in a 66-49 victory at Jacksonville State on January 19.
A STREAK NO MORE
For the second time this season, the Golden Eagles ended the OVC's longest home winning streak for league games. Tech's victory over Martin terminated the Skyhawks' 10-game run over OVC teams in their Elam Center, which had replaced Belmont's 26-game streak that ended at the hands of TTU on Jan. 5.
KENT, 'KENZIE & KESHA
While every win on the road is a team effort, Tech got outstanding individual performances from Kentoria Alexander, Mackenzie Coleman and Kesha Brady last Saturday. Coleman and Brady established new career highs with 26 points and 23 points, respectively, while Alexander put in 15. Coleman's 26 points came on an unprecedented 11-of-13 shooting (84.6 percent) from the field, and included a career-high four 3-pointers.
All three players were major contributors to Tech's 42-rebound effort, as Coleman notched her first double-double this season with a team-high 10 boards, while Brady pulled down nine and Alexander eight. In the process, Tech outrebounded Martin 42-30, which gave Tech its best rebounding margin since the season-opener against Cumberland (41-27, plus-14).
SPREADING THE LOVE
Alexander led the charge with a team-high seven of TTU's 19 assists against UTM, which was its highest total since a season-best 25 against Eastern Illinois on Jan. 12. Abby Buckner had five helpers, which matched the career high she set against Murray State on Feb. 2.
CONTINUING TO GROW
A win over Jacksonville State would give Kim Rosamond a winning record in her five career meetings with the Gamecocks, and would be the program's fifth in its last seven tries overall.
A win would also be Tech's 18th of the season, which would be more than the combined total in Rosamond's first two campaigns (17).
JACKSONVILLE STATE PROFILE
Jacksonville State has played in the Ohio Valley Conference since the 2003-04 season, and has compiled a 105-167 record.
JSU has never won an OVC regular-season or tournament title. Its highest finish came in its first season, when it posted an 11-5 league record for third place. It also took fourth place in 2004-05 and 2014-15.
Coach Rick Pietri's team won 12 league games last year, and narrowly missed a 20-win campaign with an overall ledger of 19-12.
This year's team is 11-12, with a 5-7 mark in the conference. The Gamecocks have been a better team away from Pete Mathews Coliseum this season, as they are 7-4 on the road to 4-6 at home. The most notable of those road victories is a 60-49 decision at Ole Miss.
Jacksonville State is built on defense. The Gamecocks rank No. 1 in the OVC in scoring defense (57.7 points per game), and No. 2 in field-goal percentage defense (35.2 percent).
JSU is also the best rebounding team in the conference, based largely on the play of 6-2 forward Rayven Pearson, who ranks second among OVC rebounders with 10.2 per game.
Pearson is one of two league players averaging a double-double, and is the Gamecocks' second leading scorer at 10.1 points per game, following Destiney Elliott's 11.1. Pearson also leads her club in field goal percentage at .473.
Elliott paces the team in minutes per game (27.3), and is the team's second-best rebounder at 5.3 per tilt.
Guard Taylor Hawks leads the Gamecocks in assists at 2.6 per game, and is also the team's top thief with 26 steals.
Freshman guard Yamia Johnson is the team's best 3-point shooter, clipping at 30.6 percent (30-of-98).
Tech has won 22 of its 32 meetings with Jacksonville State, which have all come during Ohio Valley Conference play.
After the teams split the first four meetings, TTU took control of the series, winning 16 of the next 17 by an average victory margin of 16 points.
Tech's lone loss in that span, which stretched into the 2013-14 season, came in Cookeville, 69-65, on Feb. 7, 2008.
JSU would take the second and third meetings in 2014, and would then string together three more victories in a row for a total of five.
That streak was snapped on Feb. 13, 2016 when Tech prevailed, 51-49, in the only overtime game the series has seen. Samaria Howard had five points in the extra session and 25 in the game to lead Tech to victory that day.
Kim Rosamond has a 3-2 record in five games vs. JSU. She won her first encounter in memorable fashion, 56-54, on Jan. 14, 2017, when a Yaktavia Hickson jump shot with four seconds lifted the Golden Eagles to victory.
Tech scored another two-point victory the following season, winning in Jacksonville, 60-58, on Feb. 8, 2018. Mackenzie Coleman scored 12 points and Jordan Brock had 10 in support of Hickson's game-high 21.
TTU won the first matchup this year at JSU, 66-49, behind strong defense, 20 points from Brock and 12 from Akia Harris.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information