December 19, 2009

Hopper's double-double helps Tech overcome Belmont, 72-69

Tech improves to 3-0 at home in Eblen Center

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Freshman Tiarra Hopper had her second career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds and Tennessee Tech had four players score in double figures on the way to a gut-check, come-from-behind 72-69 victory over Belmont Saturday night in Eblen Center.

Tech (5-4) won its fourth consecutive game by overcoming an eight-point deficit in the final 10 minutes, aided by a clutch 3-pointer from Rachel Glidden in the final minute and some timely free throw shooting by Tacarra Hayes, who drained eight in a row down the stretch.

In addition to the double-double from Hopper, Glidden finished with 14 points and Hayes and Kellie Cook each scored 12. Cook added seven rebounds as the Golden Eagles held a 42-39 advantage on the boards.

Belmont (6-3) also had four in double figures, led by Amber Rockwell with 22 points, six rebounds and six assists. Haley Nelson had 15 points and nine rebounds, Tereva Moore added 12 and Kristin Bunch scored 11.

The score was tied eight times and the lead swapped hands 13 times in the contest.

Belmont led by eight with 9:42 to play, 51-43, on a jumper by Nelson. Hopper scored six consecutive points to keep the Golden Eagles close, but Belmont still owned a six-point lead, 57-51, with 7:15 remaining on a pair of free throws by Rockwell.

Glidden hit a 3-pointer with 5:23 to play to tie the game at 59-59, capping an 8-2 Golden Eagle run, the seventh time in the game that the score was even.

Each team had a one-point le ad in the next two minutes, with the Bruins on top, 63-62 with 3:36 remaining.

Hopper (photo at left) blocked a shot with 1:52 remaining and Hayes blocked a layup attempt with 1:11 remaining.

The biggest shot of the night came on a 3-point try from Glidden with 55 seconds remaining, a shot that banked off the glass and put Tech ahead, 65-63.

Rockwell made two free throws with 45 seconds left, tying the game for the eighth time.

Hayes made two free throws with 41 seconds remaining, then Hopper stole the ball with 32 seconds left, setting the stage for Katy Cooke to make two free throws and extend the lead to 69-65. Hayes made two free throws with 12 seconds left for a 71-65 lead.

Nelson’s layup made it 71-67, but Hayes made another charity toss with five seconds left. A layup at the buzzer by Rockwell made it a three-point final margin.

Tech was slow getting its offense started, falling behind 7-1 in the first six minutes. Hayes hit a jumper with 13:33 to go in the first half for the first basket of the night for the home team.

Then, down 9-5 after a layup by Belmont’s Nelson, the Golden Eagles put together a 15-5 run to claim a 20-15 lead. Haley Ervin got the streak started with a 3-pointer, and Kellie Cook scored eight points including a pair of treys.

But Belmont worked its way back, finally knotting the score at 24-24 on a 3-pointer by Kristin Bunch. With a 3-pointer by Tereva Moore with 56 seconds remaining in the half, the Bruins finished the half by outscoring Tech 5-2 and took a 29-26 lead into the dressing room.

The Golden Eagles play their final road game of 2009 next Wednesday afternoon when they visit St. Louis University for a 2 p.m. contest. Tech returns home one final time before the new year, hosting the first game of a doubleheader on Wednesday, Dec. 30. Tipoff is at 5:30 p.m. in Eblen Center against Bluefield College.

GOLDEN NUGGETS: Tech has won four in a row, and trailed at halftime in the last three…with the win, the Golden Eagles extended their series record against Belmont to 19-10…Tech improved to 3-0 at home in Eblen Center…Tech’s bench scored 37 points and had a 37-7 edge over the Belmont bench… Hopper also had a double-double this season against Alabama with 12 points and 10 rebounds…Hopper’s 14 points was a career-high…Glidden’s 14 points was two shy of her career-high game…Tech improved to 2-1 against teams from the state of Tennessee…the Golden Eagles improved to 2-0 against teams from the Atlantic Sun (A-Sun) Conference…