Golden Eagles keep pace in OVC race, top Govs 70-64
On night when Golden Eagles recognized for 1,000 all-time wins, Tech adds another
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech made just enough free throws down the stretch to survive a visit by rival Austin Peay Monday night as the Golden Eagles claimed a 70-64 Ohio Valley Conference victory in the Eblen Center.
Tech made just 59 percent of its free throws in the game, going 19-for-32 at the line, but held onto its lead in the final two minutes by going 7-for-12.
With the win, Tech (13-10/9-5 OVC) swept the two-game series from the Governors this season, and the Golden Eagles also clinched a spot in the March 2-5 OVC Tournament in Nashville. Austin Peay saw it's record slip to 15-11 overall and 9-5 within the league.
Tech and APSU are now tied for third place in the OVC standings, trailing Murray State (10-3) and Morehead State (9-4).
Junior Kevin Murphy topped Tech with 18 points and eight rebounds, hitting 6-for-9 from the field. Junior point guard Kevin Swansey directed the Tech attack, adding 11 points, five assists and five steals.
Senior Alfred Jones also reached double figures in scoring with 10 points and grabbed five rebounds. Tech held a 36-29 lead in rebounds, thanks in part to eight from Terrell Barnes and five more from Bassey Inameti.
Will Triggs was the top scorer in the game, netting 25 points including 16 in the second half and grabbing eight rebounds to pace the Governors. Justin Blake was the only other Austin Peay player in double figures, adding 10, all in the first half. John Fraley finished with eight points and seven rebounds.
Tech had the upper hand for most of the first half, but barely. After overcoming APSU's initial 6-2 lead, the Golden Eagles led by seven early (15-8) and six later on (24-18), and eventually went to halftime with a 32-30 edge. Chase Dunn's layup with 1:17 remaining put Tech on top, 32-27, before Justin Blake buried a 3-pointer with one second to go to make it a two-point game.
Nursing a three-point, 51-48 lead as the clock went under nine minutes, the Golden Eagles got a boost when Murphy hit a running layup with 7:43 left and added the bonus shot, pushing the difference out to 54-48. Shortly after, Jones hit a jumper and the Golden Eagles had an eight-point lead at 56-48, their largest lead of the contest.
Inameti made two free throws to keep it an eight point lead at 58-50, but the Govs came storming back. Brown hit two free throws and Triggs scored back-to-back layups to pull Austin Peay within two at 58-56.
Murphy drained a 3-pointer top of the key with 3:04 left to recapture a five-point lead for the Golden Eagles.
Two free tosses by Triggs made it a three-point game, and Murphy answered by shaking free of his defender and laying it in to make it 63-58 with 2:17 left.
The Golden Eagles could have made things easy by hitting free throws in the final two minutes, but five straight trips to the stripe all yielded 1-for-2 results. Austin Peay took advantage and scratched to within two points at 66-64 with 27 second left as Brown hit back-to-back jumpers.
Zach Bailey made one free throw with 22 seconds to go, and Brown's 3-pointer could have tied things, but it was a little long and Barnes nabbed the rebound and got it to Dillard, who was fouled. The sophomore missed his first free throw with 10.3 seconds left, but made the second to make it a 68-64 lead.
Another bomb by Brown was off the mark and Dillard got the rebound with 1.6 seconds left. He hit both tries to ice it. .
The schedule takes the Golden Eagles away from home later this week for a pair of OVC games. On Thursday, Tech plays at league-leading Murray State, and on Saturday will be at UT Martin.
The guys return home next Monday for a Valentine's Day game against Tennessee State at 7 p.m. in the Eblen Center.
Photo above: The men's basketball program was recognized for recently reaching 1,000 all-time wins. Former coaches, from right, Raymond "Bull" Brown, Kenny Sidwell, Connie Inman and Frank Harrell, along with current coach Mike Sutton presented a commemortive 1,000-Win Basketball to University President, Dr. Bob Bell, and Director of Athletics, Mark Wilson.