JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – For the second straight game, Tennessee Tech prevailed in a tight, down-to-the-last-buzzer firefight. The Golden Eagles held on against the East Tennessee State Buccaneers in the final seconds to pull off a 65-62 win and move to 3-0 for the first time since 2008-09.
The Golden Eagles were led by another gutsy performance by senior guard Jud Dillard, who flirted with a triple-double while scoring 25 points. In addition to dominating the game both early and late with scoring, Dillard also pulled down 10 rebounds to notch his second consecutive double-double. He added six assists in the game to tie his career-best mark as well.
Tech jumped out to an early nine-point lead, grabbing a 17-8 advantage with just over 12 minutes to play in the first half. The Buccaneers would answer quickly and with great emphasis, putting together a nifty and impressive 16-point run that gave them a seven point advantage with five to go in the first period.
ETSU would not relinquish the lead until the second period, taking a 29-26 lead into the half. The Buccaneer lead didn't last long, as the Golden Eagles stormed out of the half, scoring nine points in the first three minutes and regaining an advantage over the Bucs. East Tennessee State would tie the game up with 15:36 to play.
Junior guard and SMU transfer Jeremiah Samarrippas hit a jumper with just under 15 minutes to put the Golden Eagles up by two and start a solid run that would give Tech an advantage that couldn't be overcome by the Buccaneers. Helping extend the lead with some clutch shooting was freshman guard Ammanuel Diressa. Diressa knocked down three-pointers on back-to-back possessions to help balloon the Golden Eagle lead to as many as 13.
East Tennessee State showed its resilience, fighting until the very end and shrinking the Tech advantage down to as many as two points with 22 seconds to play. Samarrippas would hit one of two free throws to give the Golden Eagles a three-point lead with 14 seconds. ETSU missed a three-point attempt with three seconds to go and most fittingly, Dillard pulled down the board to give himself a double-double.
Junior forward Dennis Ogbe added a season-high 11 points, shooting 100% from the field and three-point line. He played especially well in the post, scoring four of his five buckets from the paint. Samarrippas also scored 11 for the Golden Eagles, a career-best as a member of the Tech basketball team for the point guard.
The Golden Eagles will return to action on Tuesday, Nov. 20 when they play host to Evansville in a 7:30 p.m. CST tilt. Tech will try to stop senior guard Colt Ryan, rated as the 24th best shooter in Division I basketball by CBS Sports, from causing too much damage and topple the Purple Aces to remain perfect on the season.