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Golden Eagles top Reinhardt to give Payne first TTU career win

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Steve Payne has sat on the bench and called the shots a few times over the past few years at Tennessee Tech, but on Tuesday night the veteran coach was able to officially claim his first TTU career victory when the Golden Eagles downed Reinhardt College, 94-64.

Payne has filled in as acting head coach on occasion during the past five years when former head coach Mike Sutton was unable because of an illness that eventually led to his retirement at the end of last season.

On Friday night, in Payne’s debut as head coach, the Golden Eagles were denied in the final minutes at the University of Miami.

So, Payne patiently waited until Tuesday’s home opener, and his high-octane squad paid dividends with a convincing, 30-point win in front of 1,094 fans in Eblen Center.

Tech had plenty of individual standouts on a night when the Golden Eagles shot 64.4 percent from the field and made 15 steals.

Jud Dillard topped Tech in scoring, leading five players in double figures with 22 points, hitting 11-of-15 from the field. He also had five rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Senior Liam McMorrow tied his career-high with 15 points on 7-for-10 shooting and finished one rebound short of a double-double with nine as the Golden Eagles owned a 34-25 advantage on the glass.

Kevin Murphy added 13 points to climb to ninth in career scoring at Tech with 1,364 points. He is one point from matching Lorenzo Coleman in ninth place, and nine from Cameron Crisp in eighth place.

Point guard Zac Swansey was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field and finished with 14 points, seven assists and five steals.

Freshman Javon McKay was also flawless in his shooting, hitting 5-for-5 and finishing with 11 points and five assists.

Reinhardt, which entered the game with a 3-1 record, wasn’t able to keep pace with the Golden Eagles, placing a pair of players in double figures. Tyler Blackwell led the way with 13 points and Xavier Mayfield added 12. David Lawson and Tareek Roach each scored seven for the Eagles, and Jerome Carmichael finished with five points and a team-high five rebounds.

Tech shot 68.6 percent (24-for-35) in the first half while building a 56-31 lead. Tech stayed hot in the second half by hitting 58.3 percent (14-for-24). Reinhardt picked things up in the second half, overcoming 34 percent first half shooting by draining 61 percent (14-for-23) in the second half.

The Golden Eagles (1-1) remain at home to host a big challenge Saturday night when Appalachian State visits Eblen Center for a 7 p.m. contest.

For tickets, visit the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center or call (931) 372-3940.