January 17, 2009

League co-leader Murray State claims 69-47 OVC win over Tech

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - Senior Meagan Lyons joined Tennessee Tech's elite 1,000-Point Club Saturday night in Eblen Center, but Murray State held onto its share of first place in the Ohio Valley Conference with a 69-47 victory in front of a crowd of 2,718 fans plus a national TV audience on ESPNU.

The Lady Racers improved to 12-6 overall and 6-1 in the league to remained tied for first place with Eastern Illinois. The Golden Eagles, trying to win consecutive games for the second time this season, slipped to 4-14 overall and 2-5 in the OVC.

Lyons led Tech with 16 points, all in the first half, pushing her four-year total to 1,006 and making her the 24th player in the program's storied history to hit the century mark. Coincidentally, two other 1,000-point scorers - Diane Seng and Kendall Cavin -- were introduced at halftime as part of the team's annual Alumni Night.

Krystal Stirrup was the only other Golden Eagle to score in double figures, contributing 12 points and six rebounds. Blair Bowens scored eight points and eight rebounds, raising her career scoring total to 923 points as she continues to zero in on the 1,000-point plateau.

Four players hit double digits for the Lady Racers, led by Ashley Hayes with 18 and eight rebounds. Amber Guffey scored 14, Paige Guffey had 12 and Mallory Luckett scored 11.

Murray State had 28 points off of 18 Tech turnovers, and shot 55 percent in the decisive second half.

Tech's early 5-2 lead disappeared in a 12-2 Murray State run as the Racers went up by seven 14-7, at the 12:32 mark. The lead grew to nine points, 20-11, on a pair of free throws by Paige Guffey.

Down by seven, Lyons hit back-to-back baskets to pull Tech to within three points, 24-21, and two minutes later Lyons scored another jumper to make it a one-point game.

Krystal Stirrup's basket with 1:19 remaining pulled the Golden Eagles to within a single point again, 28-27, but Murray State wrapped up the half by netting the final six points to head to the break with a 34-27 lead. Paige Guffey's back-to-back 3-pointers accounted for all of that run.

Tech's 1-for-12 shooting from long range in the first half hampered the Golden Eagles, who owned a 21-17 edge in rebounds during the period. Inside the arc, Tech shot 11-for-21 for better than 50 percent.

Free throws also helped the visitors, who were 10-for-11 at the line while Tech was 2-for-4 by halftime.

The Lady Racers kept that momentum going to open the second half, pumping in the first six points to make it a 12-0 run and build the difference to 40-27, with just over two minutes elapsed.

A Tech timeout helped briefly as Bowens found the range and knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 40-30, but once again the first-place Racers put together a run, outscoring Tech 10-2, to make it 50-32 with 14 minutes to play.

Murray State continued its strong second half barrage, and opened its lead to 20 points on a layup by Jessica James to make it 52-32 with 12:21 remaining. The largest lead of the night was 29 points, 65-36, with 6:53 to play on a jumper by Angela Mullins.

The Golden Eagles face their next four games on the road, visiting Austin Peay on Thursday night and Tennessee State Saturday night. The following week, Tech plays at astern Illinois and Southeast Missouri.

Tech's next home action is Thursday, Feb. 5, against Eastern Kentucky, and Lyons will be officially recognized during the night for her 1,000-point achievement.