By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
MARTIN, Tenn. – A blistering start offensively combined with 22 assists and an all-around team effort on both sides of the ball led the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team to a 91-83 victory over in-state rival UT Martin Thursday night, keeping the Golden Eagles in the thick of the hunt for a spot in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament.
Senior Jeremiah Samarrippas put together arguably his best game in the purple and gold, recording his first double-double as a Golden Eagle. The point guard dished out a career-best 10 assists while torching the nets for a team-high 20 points. Samarrippas added five rebounds for good measure, playing a game-high 38 minutes and guiding the Tech squad to a crucial road victory.
Both teams started the game as hot as can be, combining to shoot 10-of-11 through the first four-plus minutes of the game. Unfortunately for the Skyhawks, it was the Golden Eagles that kept that shooting touch flowing throughout the contest, shooting a season-best 58.8 percent from the field and a scorching 52.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Tech knocked down 11 treys in the game while tying a season-high with 22 assists as a team. The Golden Eagles also rejected a season-best 11 shots in the contest, helping to knock down the UT Martin shooting percentage as the game went on. The Skyhawks finished the game with a respectable 48.4 percent field goal percentage.
After wrapping up the first half with a five-point lead, the Golden Eagles extended the advantage to as much as 15 points in the second stanza. The Skyhawks would not be put away quietly, however, pulling within as close as three points before Tech knocked down clutch free throws to ice the game.
Despite being limited to just six first-half minutes and only a total of 23 over the game, senior Dennis Ogbe stuffed the stat sheets with 17 points, five rebounds, and four blocks. Less than 12 hours after being named to the Capital One Academic All-America Division I Men's Basketball team, the forward shot 7-of-8 from the field, taking over the game in the middle of the second period with a dominant four-minute stretch.
Beginning at the 17:03 mark, Ogbe took a six-point Golden Eagles lead all the way to a 14-point advantage, scoring 10 straight points for the Tech squad while adding two blocks and a rebound.
Seven Golden Eagle players put up seven points or more, including starting guard Javon McKay. The junior scored all eight of his points in the first four minutes of play, becoming a key distributor over the remainder of the contest. He registered a career-high seven dimes against the Skyhawks, adding six rebounds and two blocks along the way.
Junior Dwan Caldwell, also limited to just 22 minutes due to foul trouble, quietly led tied for the team lead in rebounds, pulling down seven boards in the contest. He added 11 points and two blocks for good measure. Tying Caldwell with seven rebounds was senior Matt Marseille, who put together his most complete game since missing a third of the season because of knee surgery. The forward also scored five points in just 14 minutes of action.
Josiah Moore chipped in 10 points off the bench, tying a career-high mark of two blocks and hitting two 3-pointers. Jordan Johnson scored nine points after hitting three from beyond the arc and fellow junior Ladon Carter finished with seven points, including two off an unbelievable windmill slam on a fastbreak.
Tech will return to Cookeville one final time on Saturday when the team hosts Jacksonville State in the regular season home finale. The game will feature a Senior Day ceremony for four Golden Eagles, including seniors Matt Marseille, Dennis Ogbe, and Jeremiah Samarrippas, as well as junior Mitchell Hill. The game is set for a 7 p.m. CT start at the Eblen Center.