January 14, 2010

Tech falls in final minutes by four points at UT Martin

MARTIN, Tenn. - The road as not been particularly friendly to the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team thus far this season, but the Golden Eagles misfortune continued on Thursday evening as they fell to the UT Martin Skyhawks, 56-52, at the Elam Center. Tech (7-9, 2-4 OVC) moves to 1-7 on the road this season while handing UT Martin (3-11, 1-5 OVC) snaps its OVC-record 29-game losing streak in OVC play.

Sophomore Tacarra Hayes was all over the court throughout the game as she finished with a game-high 22 points to tie her career high. Hayes added nine rebounds, six assists and five steals in 39 minutes of action.

Following a UT Martin 3-pointer to start the game, Tech scored the next nine points to take a 9-3 advantage less than five minutes into the contest. Hayes helped the Golden Eagles get off to a fast start with six points during the stretch.

A pair of 3-pointers by the Skyhawks cut the TTU lead to 9-6, but the Golden Eagles would answer with nine of the next 12 points to take a nine-point lead, 18-9, on a put-back by Simone Rutledge. Tech extended its lead to 13 (29-16) after Hayes stole a Skyhawk pass in the backcourt and found Krystal Stirrup cutting to the basket for an easy two.

UT Martin scored the next seven to cut Tech's lead to 29-23 with less than a minute remaining in the first half; however, Hayes took over in the final 60 seconds with a long jumper followed by a steal and layup to give Tech a 10-point lead. The Skyhawks put in a free throw in the waning seconds of the half to make the score 33-24 at the break.

Hayes scored 16 points and added six rebounds, four steals and three assists in the opening half for the Golden Eagles. Tech shot 13-of-32 (40.6 percent) from the field and 3-of-14 (21.4 percent) from downtown, while the Skyhawks were just 6-of-22 (27.3 percent) from the field but finished the stanza 5-of-10 (50.0 percent) from behind the arc.

The Skyhawks cut the Golden Eagle lead to 39-38 following a 10-0 run early in the second half, but Kylie Cook's 3-pointer stopped the UT Martin run and gave Tech some breathing room. UT Martin kept the game close and again cut the Golden Eagle lead to one, 49-48, with less than five minutes remaining in the game.

With 2:46 remaining, UT Martin took it s first lead of the game since the opening moments after Skyhawk Cali Cupples was fouled on a 3-point attempt and converted on all three free throw attempts to make the score 51-50 in favor of UT Martin. Hayes hit a jumper with 1:28 to go in the game before the Skyhawks converted on one of two free throws to even the score at 52-52.

Hayes was whistled for an offensive foul on the Golden Eagles next possession, and on the ensuing trip by the Skyhawks, Alecia Weatherly hit a 3-pointer with 21.2 second on the clock to put the UT Martin ahead for good. Kylie Cook's 3-point attempt with less than 10 seconds remaining hit off the back iron, and the Skyhawks secured the rebound and the win by a final score of 56-52.

The Golden Eagles shot just 7-of-23 (30.4 percent) from the field in the second half, while UT Martin made 11-of-20 shots (55.0 percent) in the final 20 minutes.

Tech returns to action on Saturday, January 16 with a 5:30 p.m. contest at Murray State.