Tennessee State muscles its way to 65-62 OVC win in Eblen Center

Tennessee State muscles its way to 65-62 OVC win in Eblen Center

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee State had just enough muscle Saturday night to knock of Tennessee Tech, 65-62, in pivotal Ohio Valley Conference women’s basketball action in Eblen Center.

It was a contest between two rivals fighting for a spot in the upper levels of the OVC standings, with each entering the game at 3-5 in the league.

The Lady Tigers improved to 7-11 overall and 4-5 in the OVC while Tech saw it’s overall mark slip to 8-11 with a 3-6 OVC log. It was only the second home loss for the Golden Eagles in eight contests, and the first road win of the season for the Lady Tigers.

After trailing by as many as 13 in the second half, the Golden Eagles pulled within two points with one minute remaining on a layup by Tacarra Hayes, then got the ball back on Kylie Cook’s rebound with 35 seconds to play. Following a timeout, Hayes missed a jumper in the lane and the rebound was ruled out of bounds off a Tech player.

With 8.4 seconds to go, Meredith Stafford was fouled and made her first free throw for a three-point lead. Tiara Hopper grabbed the rebound on the missed second try and gave it to Hayes, who raced the length of the court and fed Kellie Cook, but her 3-pointer at the buzzer was off the rim to end the contest.

Hayes narrowly missed a second triple-double, finishing with 17 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and three steals. Kylie Cook had 14 points and seven boards, while Kellie Cook and Krystal Stirrup scored 10 each.

For TSU. Obiageli Okafor was the high scorer in the game with 22 points. She also grabbed nine rebounds, seven on the offensive boards. Nikki Rumph was the only other Lady Tiger in double digits, scoring 11, but TSU got plenty of balance. Jasmin Schuler scored nine while LaDona Pierce and Meredith Stafford netted eight each.

Tech led by five early in the game, but TSU took advantage of 12 first half Golden Eagle turnovers, scoring 17 points off mistakes in the opening half. The Tigers held a seven-point lead late in the half, and carried that advantage into halftime.

The TSU lead grew to as many as 13 early in the second half, reaching 40-27 with 17:17 to play on a layup by Pierce.

Kellie Cook hit a 3-pointer to open a 17-5 Golden Eagle run and the hosts were back to within one point, 45-44, exactly five minutes later.

The teams waged a stalemate for the next six minutes before Kellie Cook’s jumper with 6:16 to go put Tech ahead for the first time in the second half, a 57-56 lead.

Pierce’s basket with 5:20 left nudged TSU back into command and the Golden Eagles never caught up. The lead was up to four, 64-60, when Tate made two free throws with 3:02 remaining.
The teams combined for only three total points in the final three minutes, two by Hayes with 1:11 left to make it 64-62, and the one free toss by Stafford with nine seconds remaining.

The crowd Saturday included dozens of men's and women's former players on hand (photo) for Basketball Alunni Night.

Halfway through their four-game homestand, the Golden Eagles will welcome Eastern Illinois to Eblen Center on Thursday night (Jan. 28) and Southeast Missouri on Saturday (Jan. 30).

The Putnam County Health Dept. is offering free H1N1 shots in the lobby of Eblen Center during both of those games, and Tech will give a free ticket to the game for anyone receiving the vaccine.

For tickets or more information, visit or call the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center (931-372-3940).