COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Locked in a tight contest throughout the first half and early second, Tennessee Tech rallied midway in the second period to gain a 16-point lead, and the Golden Eagles held on to claim a 78-64 Ohio Valley Conference victory Saturday night over Jacksonville State in Eblen Center.
Dillard went 14-for-14 at the free throw line and scored 18
points while nabbing 10 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the
season. Junior Dennis Ogbe also
notched 18 points along with grabbing six boards as the Golden
Eagles owned a 36-19 advantage on the glass.
Junior point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas added 15 points and four steals, and Javon McKay also reached double figures with 10 points, his highest output since the season opener.
Junior Brian Williams led the Gamecocks with 22 points and four assists, while senior Tarvin Gaines added 15, senior Ronnie Boggs scored nine and grabbed six rebounds, and senior Rinaldo Mafra added eight.
Tech's homecourt win avenged a 21-point loss at Jacksonville in December. The Golden Eagles improved to 9-14 overall and 3-8 within the OVC as they fight for a playoff spot in the March 6-9 Tournament field.
Jacksonville State's record slipped to 15-8 overall and 7-5 in the league.
The largest lead of the first half was a five-point Golden Eagle
advantage, 7-2 very early on the contest. Tech was able to go up by
four on two other occasions, but for much of the period the two
teams were within a single basket. At the break, Tech was up by
In the second half, Tech's 16-point margin was trimmed to 10 points with six minutes to play when JSU head coach James Green was charged with two technical fouls and ejected while arguing a call on an aggressive foul under the Tech basket. JSU players were charged with a personal and a technical on the play that led to Green's ejection.
The Golden Eagles made seven of eight free throws from the incident and rebuilt their lead to 17.
A dunk by McKay made it a 19-point bulge, Tech's largest lead of the contest, with 5:36 to play before the Gamecocks tried to mount a comeback. They pulled within eight, 66-58, with 1:44 to play on a 3-pointer by Williams but Tech was able to answer down the stretch by hitting 12-for-14 at the charity line.
The real difference in the game came midway in the second half when Tech went from a 33-30 lead to a 45-30 advantage with a 12-0 run. Six different players contributed points in the run, capped by a layup from Jud Dillard with 11:04 to play.
Next up for the Golden Eagles is the team's annual trip to "Death Valley" with games at Eastern Kentucky Thursday and Morehead State Saturday.