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Golden Eagle women ready to make run for an OVC title

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - With four experienced seniors to provide leadership to a roster filled with newcomers, Tennessee Tech women's basketball coach Amy Brown and the Golden Eagles have their sites set on becoming the 2008-09 Ohio Valley Conference Champions.

The season kicks off on Monday, Nov. 10, when Tech hosts an exhibition doubleheader beginning with the women's team facing Tusculum College at 5:30 p.m. in Eblen Center.

Seniors Blair Bowens, Meagan Lyons, Allison Price and Rachel Whittle all played major roles for the Golden Eagles last season, combining for over 26 points and 11 rebounds per game.

Brown, in her third year at the helm, believes that this team has the talent to make a run at the OVC crown.

"I think these seniors are ready to win a conference championship," Brown said. "I think their mentality and their physical conditioning are ready to do that."

Also back is sophomore Jasmine White, who saw action in all 30 Golden Eagle games last season, and was voted the team's Most Improved Player by her teammates.

"I really believe that the depth of this team is at an all-time high since I've taken over as head coach," Brown said.

The Golden Eagles lost three seniors following the 2007-08 season, including leading scorer and second-team all-OVC center Kristina Tyler, who averaged 14.2 points and added seven rebounds per game. Also gone are Cara Reed and Marissa Hensley.

Bowens, the top returning scorer, averaged 10.1 points and 3.2 rebounds per game in 2007-08. An aggressive and tough style of play makes her valuable on both ends of the floor. Lyons, another player who shared part of the scoring load for the Golden Eagles, averaged 8.7 points and 4.5 rebounds.

Next in scoring was Price, who averaged 6.8 points and 3.1 rebounds. An exceptionally quick guard, Price also led the team in assists with a season total of 95. Price shared the top spot in steals with Lyons, another quick guard, each taking 52 for the Golden Eagles.

Nine new faces will complete the roster this winter. Among those newcomers is 6-foot-3 junior center Vivian Nwosu, who sat out last year due to NCAA transfer rules. Nwosu played two seasons at McLennan Community College. Before transferring to Tech last year, the junior from Waco, Texas, averaged 20 points and 12 rebounds.

"I feel we've improved our offensive punch with Vivian being able to play the next two years, as well as adding to the guard spot to help out Blair, Meagan and Allison," Brown said. "Also, Rachel Whittle has a year of experience and a healthy knee, so I'm really looking forward to the season."

Other newcomers joining the Golden Eagles are freshmen Kelleshia Cook, Rachel Glidden, Ellie Foster, Tacarra Hayes, Danielle Pointer, Simone Rutledge, Krystal Stirrup, and Amber Trail.

Hayes is a natural scorer, and can play the guard or forward spot, and also has the ability to shoot the three. Cook is a point guard who is a threat to fill up the stat sheet every night. In high school, she averaged 15 points, eight assists, and six rebounds per game.

Rutledge and Stirrup will provide depth down low for the Golden Eagles. Rutledge, a 6-0 forward who can also play center, put up eight points and nine rebounds per game in high school.

Stirrup, a forward, is a versatile athlete who can do it all. She averaged 15 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks per game at Douglas McArthur High School in San Antonio, Texas.

"I believe that these freshmen coming in can help with the depth and athleticism, especially in scoring some points."

However, with the youth comes question marks, and those question marks translated to a lower-than-usual preseason prediction from other Ohio Valley Conference schools. Tennessee Tech was picked to finish seventh in the OVC.

A seventh place finish would put Tech in the OVC post-season tournament, but the expectations in Cookeville are much higher, as Tech has perennially challenged for the OVC crown.

Season tickets are currently on sale and can be purchased at either the Athletic Ticket Office in Eblen Center or by calling (931) 372-3940. Tickets are also on sale online at TTUsports.com.