By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – 2018-19 was a momentous season for the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team. From start to finish, the Golden Eagles made huge strides in returning to the program's winning tradition, putting together one of the best turnarounds in NCAA basketball.
Now, as the 2019-20 season stands on the horizon, the Tech women look to build on that momentum with championship aspirations on their minds and their eyes set high on the future of Golden Eagle basketball.
It won't be an easy task, however, as the Tech women come into the season with a tough slate full of challenges, yet interesting tests along the way.
"The goal in the nonconference schedule is always to prepare your team for the conference grind in January and February," said Tech women's basketball head coach Kim Rosamond, who is entering her fourth season in charge of the program. "I am confident this schedule will challenge us and have us ready to compete at a high level going into conference play. We will obviously have a difficult road stretch from mid-November to just before Christmas, but it will also be a great opportunity for our team to play several quality opponents in tough environments which is what we face nightly on the road in the OVC."
Tech prefaces the regular season with an exhibition contest against the University of the Cumberlands (Ky.) on Oct. 29. The Patriots are led head coach in Rick Reeves, who previously spent 14 years at Gardner-Webb, including four NCAA Tournament appearances.
The Golden Eagles then open the regular-season slate on Nov. 5 as Tech entertains Cumberland (Tenn.). The Phoenix faced Tech last season and a 23-7 run in the second quarter saw the Golden Eagles soar past for a 88-55 victory in the Hooper Eblen Center.
Tech then hosts its final home game until nearly Christmas as it brings in Louisiana-Monroe. The Warhawks have a new coach at the helm in Brooks Williams. Hired in April, Williams stands as the all-time winningest coach at McNeese State.
After that, it's a month-long road trip for the Golden Eagles as they'll see the sights in Illinois, Alabama, North Carolina and a couple of in-state trips before returning home in late December.
Up first is a visit to Southern Illinois on Nov. 16. The Salukis return its three top scorers from a year ago.
Then it's a showdown in the Murphy Center in Murfreesboro as the Golden Eagles look to make it back-to-back wins over long-time rival Middle Tennessee on Nov. 21. Tech earned its first win over MTSU last year since the 2004-05 campaign with a 68-64 victory at the Eblen Center, powered by a double-double from Akia Harris with 15 points and eight boards. The Blue Raiders finished 23-11 last season, including an 11-3 record at home.
Just three days later, it'll be another reunion with a former Ohio Valley Conference foe as the Golden Eagles travel down to Birmingham to take on a new-look Samford team under the direction of Carley Kuhns.
The road trip continues into the Thanksgiving holiday as Tech heads to Las Vegas for the weekend, taking on Northern Illinois and Detroit Mercy at the South Point Shootout on Nov. 29-30.
The Huskies finished 19-13 last year, powered by the scoring efforts of seniors Courtney Woods (20.1 ppg) and Mikayla Voigt (19.5 ppg), but NIU has some shooters ready to fill those shoes.
Tech opens the December slate with a familiar site for head coach Kim Rosamond as the Golden Eagles head to Nashville and Memorial Gym to take on Vanderbilt. Rosamond spent nine years as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator on Melanie Balcomb's staff, helping lead the Commodores to seven NCAA Tournaments, two Sweet 16 berths, a Southeastern Conference tournament championship and numerous rankings in the Top 25 polls.
The Golden Eagles previously played at Memorial Gym in Rosamond's first season at Tech, dropping an 89-57 decision, but it will be an interesting litmus test to see how much the Tech women have improved in that span.
After a break for finals, Tech closes out its road trip with a jaunt over to Cullowhee, N.C., to take on Western Carolina. The Golden Eagles defeated the Catamounts 77-58 this past season in the Eblen Center as Jordan Brock and Kesha Brady both chipped in 18 points.
The 2019 portion of the schedule closes out with a pair of games at the Eblen Center as Lipscomb (Dec. 21) and Tennessee Wesleyan (Dec. 29) come to town. Tech defeated Lipscomb 67-52 last December, but the Bison will have a new look with the addition of Kentucky transfer Dorie Harrison and new head coach Lauren Sumski.
Not long after 2020 gets rung in, the Golden Eagles get right back to work, opening Ohio Valley Conference play with the Death Valley swing to Eastern Kentucky (Jan. 2) and Morehead State (Jan. 4).
The Colonels saw a change in leadership with longtime Louisville assistant coach Samantha Williams tabbed to run the program and will see a lot of new faces on the squad as only five players return for the 2019-20 campaign, while loading up on transfers and freshmen.
Morehead State went 24-10 a year ago and has been one of the most consistent teams atop the OVC standings in recent years.
Tech then returns home to host Austin Peay (Jan. 9) and Murray State (Jan. 11). The Governors split the meetings but fell to the Golden Eagles 68-57 in the OVC Tournament in Evansville, Ind, however, APSU will return a lot of talent from that squad. The Racers return the league's reigning Freshman of the Year, Macey Turley.
The following week, the Golden Eagles make the Illinois trip through the conference, taking on SIUE (Jan. 16) and Eastern Illinois (Jan. 18), then return home for return visits from Morehead State (Jan. 23) and EKU (Jan. 25).
Tech went 2-0 last year against the Panthers, then split against SIUE.
Defending conference champion Belmont comes to the Eblen Center on Jan. 30. The Golden Eagles snapped Belmont's 47-game OVC winning streak last season on the Bruins' home court. Belmont will be without Darby Maggard after her outstanding career came to a close, but senior Ellie Harmeyer (16.5 ppg, 8.9 rpg) will still be a formidable foe.
Tech closes out the four-game homestand as it entertains Tennessee State on Feb. 1 to open the final month of the regular season. The Golden Eagles won both meetings with the Tigers last season.
On Feb. 6, Tech travels to UT Martin for the first of two meetings. The Golden Eagles won the lone contest between the two teams last year 80-76. The Skyhawks lost top scorer Emanye Robertson (12.8 ppg), but will return Chelsey Perry (12.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg) for her junior campaign as well as nearly the rest of UTM's talented squad from a year ago.
Two days later on Feb. 8, the Golden Eagles head to Cape Girardeau to take on Southeast Missouri. Tech lost the lone meeting with the Redhawks 62-53 last season.
Tech faces Jacksonville State for the first time in the new season on Feb. 13 in the Eblen Center, before making the return trip to Tennessee State on Feb. 15. UT Martin (Feb. 20) and SEMO (Feb. 22) visit the Hoop for the final regular-season home contests, then Tech travels to Belmont (Feb. 27) and Jacksonville State (Feb. 29) to close out the regular season.
The OVC Tournament will be held in Evansville, Ind., at the Ford Center for the third straight season, beginning March 4.
"The level of competition in the OVC continues to get better each year," Rosamond said. "With the level of talent returning and the outstanding coaches in our league, the OVC brand will continue to elevate this season. There are several teams who will play a major factor in the championship race, and it will be another exciting conference season as well as conference tournament in Evansville."
Start times will be announced at a later date.
Season tickets for Tennessee Tech women's basketball are now on sale. Call (931) 372-3940, visit the Hooper Eblen Center ticket office or visit TTUsports.com for details.