Tech opens OVC play with a win over Jacksonville State

JACKSONVILLE, Ala. - Freshman Kellie Cook scored 20 points and sophomore Rachel Glidden added a career-high 16 as the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team used big second half to win its OVC opener against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks, 68-59. First-year head coach Sytia Messer picks up a win in her Ohio Valley Conference debut as the Golden Eagles move to 3-4 overall.

Tech finished 27-for-59 (45.8 percent) from the field while holding the Gamecocks to just 19-for-54 (35.2 percent) on the afternoon. The Golden Eagles also forced 20 JSU turnovers.

Cook finished 9-for-17 from the field, including 2-for-3 from 3-point distance, while adding two assists and a rebound. Sophomore Tacarra Hayes matched her season average with 16 points and also had six rebounds and four assists. Glidden's career high came on 6-of-10 shooting from the field, including 4-for-8 from behind the arc. Sophomore Simone Rutledge followed up her 14 point, 14 rebound performance against Lipscomb with seven points and seven boards.

It was a quiet gym to start the game, but Jacksonville State gave the home fans who were in attendance something to cheer about as the Gamecocks jumped out to an early 8-2 lead, forcing a Golden Eagle timeout just 2:30 into the game. JSU did all of its damage in the paint on its early run, scoring on four of five field goal attempts.

Tech came out of the timeout with a sense of urgency as the Golden Eagles climbed back to even the score at 11-11 with 13:01 remaining in the half. Sophomore Krystal Stirrup capped the 9-3 run with a steal and layup to tie the game, causing a Gamecock timeout.

The Golden Eagles wasted no time grabbing their first lead of the game coming out of the timeout as Glidden knocked down a 3-pointer to put Tech ahead 14-11.

A 3-pointer by Cook gave Tech its largest lead of the first half at 27-17, but the Gamecocks used an 11-0 run over the next four minutes to retake the lead, 28-27, with 2:33 left in the half. JSU added three free throws and a layup down the stretch of the half to take a 33-27 into the break. The Golden Eagles went scoreless over the last 6:23 in the opening half.

Free throw shooting hurt Tech in the first half as the team went just 1-for-8 from the charity stripe.

Tech used its defense to create offense to open the second half as three steals in the first 3:30 led to an 11-0 run, helping put TTU back on top, 38-33. Glidden scored seven points during the stretch on a pair of fast break layups and her second 3-pointer of the game.

Freshman Tiara Hopper scored six consecutive points for the Golden Eagles as they extended their lead to 47-38 at the 11:47 mark on the second half.

With 5:17 remaining in the contest, the Gamecocks cut the lead to five, 56-51, but that is as close as JSU would come as Hayes scored four straight points followed by back-to-back layups by Cook and Rutledge to put the game out of reach.

The Golden Eagles  play next when they return home to play Southern Illinois on Saturday, December 12. Single game and season tickets are available through the Golden Eagle ticket office by calling 372-3940 or visiting TTUsports.com.