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Cook, Hayes lead Tech over first-place EKU by 28 points

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Tech was a pretty rude host considering the visitor was such a distinguished guest.

The Golden Eagles shocked previously unbeaten and league-leading Eastern Kentucky Saturday night in Eblen Center behind early fireworks from Kellie Cook, building a 15-0 lead and cruising to a 75-47 Ohio Valley Conference victory.

EKU, which brought a 5-0 OVC record into the contest, saw its record slip to 8-7 overall and 5-1 in the league. Tech, which is now 5-1 at home, improved to 7-8 overall and 2-3 in the conference.

Cook, a freshman, led Tech with 23 points, hitting that career-high mark for the third time this season. She finished the game with 23 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

Sophomore Tacarra Hayes, who posted a triple-double Thursday night, threatened to repeat that rare feat Saturday. She finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

Kylie Cook also achieved double figures with 13, and grabbed eight rebounds as Tech completely dominated in rebounds, 52-26.

Talisha Davis was the lone EKU player to score in double digits, netting 14. Alex Jones had nine points, five rebounds and four steals and Cherie White added eight points and five rebounds.

Tech owned the backboards in the first half with a 27-8 lead in rebounds, and used that to help take a 20-point lead (42-22) into the dressing room at the intermission. Cook had 17 points in the first half and Hayes had 10 at the break.

Cook scored the first 10 points on the game, including back-to-back 3-pointers. Hayes hit a jumper to make it 12-0, and Cook added her third 3-pointer and the lead grew to 15-0 with less than four minutes elapsed.

The Colonels pulled to within 10 points on a 3-pointer by Davis with 7:52 to play, making it 26-16. A steal by Simone Rutledge led to a jumper by Hayes and Katherine Barker grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to take the lead back to 14.

Katy Cooke’s layup with 1:51 to play made it a 20-point margin. With three seconds to go, Rachel Glidden launched a bomb from about 26 feet that hit nothing but net and put Tech in control by 20 at halftime.

The Colonels put together a brief rally early in the second half, trimming their deficit from 20 down to 13 points. A jumper by Brittany Coles with 13:13 remaining made it 44-31, but Hayes scored three and Kylie Cook added a 3-pointer to rebuild the TTU advantage to 19.

The difference reached 30 points with 2:07 to play on a 3-pointer by Kylie Cook, making it 73-43. Tech was up by 30 after Kellie Cook hit two free throws with 26 seconds to play, before Ashley Pritchett’s jumper at the 14-second mark counted for the final score.

The schedules bends toward the west next week as the Golden Eagles face games at UT Martin Thursday and Murray State Saturday. Tech returns home to Eblen Center on January 21 to host Austin Peay in a doubleheader.

Tickets for all Tech home games are available at the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center, or by calling (931) 372-3940.

TECH NOTES: One of the Cook sisters had had a huge first half in each of Tech’s last three games. At EIU, Kellie had 17 at the break, and Thursday night against Morehead State Kylie scored 15 by halftime…Tech made 10 3-pointers against EKU after hitting 11 against Morehead State on Thursday…sophomore transfer Alison West Mason scored the first points of her TTU career, knocking down a 3-pointer in the second half. She also grabbed three rebounds in five minutes of play.