COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - Halfway through its longest homestand of the season, the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team will return to the Eblen Center floor on Thursday night when Eastern Illinois comes to Cookeville for an OVC showdown. Tip-off between the Golden Eagles and the Panthers is set for 5:30 p.m.
Thursday will mark the second meeting between the two teams this season as EIU knocked off Tech, 79-68, earlier this season in Charleston. Tacarra Hayes and Kellie Cook each scored 22 points for the Golden Eagles in that contest.
Tech will go into the game with an 8-11 overall record and 3-6 mark in the OVC. The eighth-place Golden Eagles will try to even the season series against the first-place Panthers who are 12-8 overall and 8-1 in the conference.
The Golden Eagles will look for Hayes to lead the way against EIU, whose only loss in conference action came against Austin Peay. Hayes, who earned OVC Player of the Week honors last week for the second time this season, set the single-game scoring record for a guard in Tennessee Tech history against Austin Peay last Thursday when she finished 13-for-23 from the field and 12-for-15 at the charity stripe for a career-high 39 points. On Saturday, Hayes again filled the stat sheet and nearly posted a triple-double for the second time this season. The Lebanon, Ky., native finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and eight assists as the Golden Eagles fell to visiting Tennessee State by three, 65-62.
A total of four OVC weekly award recipients who have 10 weekly awards among them this season will be on the floor on Thursday. EIU's Ta'Kenya Nixon has been voted OVC Player of the Week twice and Freshman of the Week four times. For Tech, Hayes has earned OVC Player of the Week honors twice, while both Kellie Cook and Tiara Hopper have been garnered Freshman of the Week honors.
The outcome of Thursday's game may rest on how well the Golden Eagles can keep Eastern Illinois off the boards. EIU enters the contest first in the OVC in rebounding margin by a substantial amount at plus-10.3 rebounds per contest. Tech, on the other hand, is third in the conference at plus-2.0 boards per game. However, the Golden Eagles have done a much better job of rebounding at home where they have out-rebounded opponents by an average of 9.4 boards.
Basketball is not the only reason to visit the Eblen Center on Thursday as the Putnam County Health Department will be offering free H1N1 vaccines in the lobby. Anyone receiving the vaccine will also receive a free ticket to the game.
In addition, Tech will be partnering with community groups to host a canned/non-perishable food drive for the victims of the recent events in Haiti. Fans are encouraged to bring canned/non-perishable food items to the game to donate.
Thursday's game is scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. start time. Tickets are still available and can by purchased by either visiting or calling the Tennessee Tech Ticket Office at 372-3940.
Fans can hear all the action for free on Teamline either online or on the phone. The broadcast can be accessed through Tennessee Tech's athletics Web site, TTUsports.com, or fans can call 1-800-846-4700 and enter the team code 0654 to catch all the action. TTUsports.com will also have live stats for the game, while Web streaming can be accessed through ovcsports.tv.