Eastern Illinois takes lead in final minutes, wins by four

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - The league-leading Eastern Illinois Panthers let out a collective sigh of relief at the buzzer Monday night in Eblen Center, narrowly escaping an upset bid and claiming a 50-46 Ohio Valley Conference victory over Tennessee Tech in the game's final minutes.

Rachel Galligan converted a three-point play with 3:51 remaining to give the visiting Panthers (10-5/4-0 OVC) their first lead of the second half, 44-43.

Tech senior Blair Bowens made three free throws with 1:37 to play to tie the game at 46-46, before Megan Edwards hit a layup at the 1:14 mark to lift EIU back into the lead. After the Golden Eagles (3-10/1-2 OVC) lost the ball on an errant pass, Edwards hit two more free throws with nine seconds remaining for the final margin.

Tech led by five points at halftime, 26-21, holding the Panthers to 35 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes. The Golden Eagles maintained their lead for more than 16 minutes of the second half before Galligan's basket and free throw.

EIU outscored Tech 15-6 at the free throw line, while all other stats in the contest were extremely even. EIU had a slim 29-26 edge in rebounds. The Panthers improved to 50 percent shooting in the second half, finishing the game at 42 percent. Tech shot 31 percent in the second half and 38 percent for the game.

Tech had 22 turnovers and EIU had 20 miscues.

Bowens led all scorers with 19 points, including four 3-pointers, the lone Golden Eagle to reach double digits. Allison Price had seven points and five assists. Vivan Nwosu scored six and had four rebounds in the low-scoring contest.

Galligan was the only Panther in double figures, scoring 16 and grabbing five boards. Canale had nine points, Maggie Kloak eight, and both Edwards and Dominique Sims added seven.

The Golden Eagles hit the road this week to play at Morehead State Thursday night and Eastern Kentucky Saturday. Tech's next home contest is Thursday, Jan. 15, when UT Martin visits for an early 5 p.m. tipoff.