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December 12, 2009

Cook's career-highs lead Tech to 59-56 win over Salukis

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Freshman Kellie Cook (right) had career-highs of 23 points and nine rebounds to lead Tennessee Tech to its third straight victory with a 59-56 decision over Southern Illinois Saturday evening in the Eblen Center.

After SIU had pulled within two points with a late 7-0 run, Cook hit a clutch hook shot with 58 seconds to play to give the Golden Eagles a 56-52 lead. The rookie from Madison, Ala., made three of four free throws in the final eight seconds to secure the win.

Stephany Neptune’s jumper with 16 seconds remaining made it a 56-54 Tech lead and Cook hit one of two charity tosses for a three-point edge. Christine Presswood drove the court and scored a layup with 1.5 seconds left to make it a one-point difference, and Cook sank both free throws for the final margin.

Tech (4-4) got nine points from Rachel Glidden on three 3-pointers, while freshman Tiarra Hopper added eight points and four rebounds. Simone Rutledge muscled her way to six points and nine rebounds and Tacarra Hayes added six points, five rebounds and four steals.

Presswood led SIU with 22 points and seven rebounds while Teri Oliver scored 15 points and grabbed five boards. Neptune finished with eight points, nine rebounds, four blocked shots and three steals for the Salukis and Nneka Nwani added six points and seven rebounds.

Tech led most of the first half, building a nine-point margin at halftime, 31-22, for the largest difference of the period.

The Golden Eagle lead grew to 13 early in the second half as Cook scored twice, the second time putting Tech on top 37-24.

The Salukis pulled to within three points, 39-36, on a 3-pointer by Oliver with 12:28 to go, but Tech recovered and built the lead back to nine on some strong inside play by Hopper and Rutledge. A second consecutive basket by Rutledge made it 54-45 with 3:49 to play, setting the stage for the Salukis to rally with their 7-0 run including four from Presswood.

Tech’s next action comes in a week, following final exams. The Golden Eagle women will get a doubleheader underway on Saturday, Dec. 19, by hosting Belmont University at 6 p.m.

Season and individual game tickets can be ordered through the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center or by calling (931) 372-3940. Tickets are also available online at TTU sports.com.