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December 15, 2013

Golden Eagles show maturity in tight victory over Lamar in Texas

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator

BEAUMONT, Texas – Simply put, there was just nothing that was going to stand in the way of the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team from gathering its sixth win of the season Sunday afternoon, as the Golden Eagles overcame adversity for a 79-74 victory over Lamar.

With plenty of family and friends in attendance, JUCO transfer Ladon Carter put together arguably his best game in a Tech uniform, scoring 12 points (several on a multitude of highlight-reel dunks) and collecting 12 rebounds for his first double-double of his Golden Eagle career. He also added three blocks and a steal in a career-high 30 minutes, seeing extra court time due to foul trouble of the other Tech big men.

Senior forward Dennis Ogbe led Tech in scoring, grabbing 17 points in just 18 minutes of work after being limited in both halves by foul trouble. The Munich, Germany native was called for his fourth foul of the contest with 16:50 to play, but managed to avoid a disqualification and played key minutes down the stretch. He scored nine of the team's first 11 points of the second half, helping give Tech a comfortable margin in the early goings of the second stanza.

Tech looked clear on its way to a comfortable lead after extending a 42-29 halftime lead to 19 points with just over 15 minutes to play. Anyone watching the game could see that it was going to be a short-lived lead, however, as by the time the clock had struck 12:19, the Golden Eagles had already been called for 12 fouls in the second half alone. The Cardinals total? Two.

And Lamar took quick advantage of the good fortune bestowed upon it, connecting on 17-of-18 attempts from the charity stripe from the start of the second half to the 4:07 mark when the Cardinals tied the game at 66 all.

A lesser team may have folded; given in to the emotion that comes with a vast foul diferential. This team, however, held strong, ripping an 8-0 run to gather control of the contest with 33 seconds to play.

Lamar's Nimrod Hilliard would hit two late 3-pointers, making the final 30 seconds of play more exciting than many would expect. But Tech made its free throws down the stretch to even its record at 6-6 on the year.

Hitting several big shots down the stretch for the Golden Eagles was junior guard Ty Allen, who scored 15 points for yet another double-digit scoring effort. Freshman point guard Shirmane Thomas put together a career day, scoring a career-best mark 12 points, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the first half and give Tech a 13-point halftime lead.

Amos Wilson went 12-of-15 from the charity stripe for the Cardinals while leading all scorers with 20 points on the day. Marcus Owens went a perfect 9-of-9 from the free throw line, finishing with 19 points of his own. Hilliard also tallied double-digits, hitting four 3-pointers while tallying 18 points and seven assists.

The Golden Eagles proved their dominance on the glass, out-rebounding the Cardinals 34-24, leading to 10 second-chance points. But the real dominance came in the paint, as Tech outscored Lamar 40-28 near the bucket.

Tech also had a solid night shooting, connecting on 50 percent of its attempts from the field. The Golden Eagles also enjoyed a solid night at the charity stripe, hitting on 22-of-28 freebies. Lamar did enjoy the advantage in that department, thanks to a 27-19 foul differential. The Cardinals went 26-of-30 on its free throw attempts.

It's a short turnaround for the Tech squad, as the Golden Eagles will head north for a Tuesday match-up against the Green Bay Phoenix. Game time is set for 7 p.m. CT and the contest can be viewed on ESPN3 or fans can tune in to 106.1 The Eagle and listen to Golden Eagle Sports Network play-by-play man Roger Ealey.