Golden Eagles back home for three OVC games in a five-day span starting Thursday
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Tennessee Tech had already lost to Southeast Missouri once this season, back in December in Eblen Center.
The Golden Eagles weren't about to let it happen again, even with nearly 6,000 Redhawk fans filling the Show Me Center Saturday night.
The Golden Eagles raced out to an early double-digit lead and never trailed in the game, fending off a late rally by the home team to claim a 93-86 victory. The win allowed Tech (11-9 overall/7-4 OVC) to sneak to within one game of first place in the Ohio Valley Conference standings.
Southeast Missouri dropped its sixth straight in falling to 5-17 overall and 4-8 in the conference.
Unheralded junior guard Zach Bailey (shown in photo) was the spark for Tech, topping four Golden Eagles who scored in double figures in the high-scoring affair. Bailey went 11-for-12 at the free throw line on the way to netting 23 points.
Zac Swansey (photo below right) had 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists, Kevin Murphy 18 points and Alfred Jones 16. Terrell Barnes led Tech in rebounds with 12 as the Golden Eagles held a 37-31 edge on the glass.
Southeast Missouri also posted four players in double figures, with Marland Smith leading all scorers by pouring in 27. Lucas Nutt added 21, Anthony Allison had 14, and Leon Powell finished with a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Tech shot a rarified 61.5 percent from the field in the first half (16-for-26) and broke and early 2-2 tie with a 10-0 run to forge a 12-2 lead. The Golden Eagles stayed in control throughout the first half with a double-digit lead most of the way before heading to the intermission on top by six, 48-42.
Tech continued to hit shots in the second half, shooting 52 percent after the break, bit SEMO also found the range by hitting 51.7 percent. The allowed the hosts to whittle down the difference until they pulled to within a single bucket, 63-61, with 11:26 to play on a 3-pointer by Smith.
A jumper by Smith with 10:04 to go kept things at two points, 65-63, before the Golden Eagles were able to recover and regain some breathing room as Bailey scored seven consecutive points during a 1:17 stretch. Following a layup, he nailed a 3-pointer and added twp free throws and suddenly Tech was on top by nine, 72-63.
The lead went back to 11 for the Golden Eagles before SEMO cut it back to four with a 6-1 run. The Redhawks made it 82-78 with 1:54 remaining on a layup by Brister, but the Golden Eagles made 9-for-12 at the stripe down the stretch.
Tech returns home following a four-game road stretch, and will host five of its final seven OVC games in Eblen Center beginning with three games in a five-day span.
On Thursday Tech hosts Eastern Kentucky, followed Saturday by a visit from Morehead State and Monday when Austin Peay comes calling. Tickets for all three games are on sale at the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center or by calling (931) 372-3940.
Photos by Tony Marable