Second half surge propels Lady Govs past Tech

TTU falls to seventh in OVC standings

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - It was a tale of two halves on Saturday night as the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team dropped a key OVC match-up against in-state rival Austin Peay, 78-70. The Golden Eagles fall one spot in the conference standings to seventh place with one OVC game remaining.

The OVC Tournament field will be set following next Saturday's games with the top eight teams in the conference receiving an invitation.

Tech out-played the Lady Govs in every aspect in the first half as the team built a 20-point lead with five minutes remaining. However, Austin Peay chipped away in the waning minutes of the opening stanza and kept the momentum going into the second half where APSU out-scored the Golden Eagles, 51-28.

Freshman Tiara Hopper's layup with less than four minutes gone in the game gave Tech an 8-3 lead early, and Tech kept the pressure on as the team went on an 18-2 run over the next six minutes to build an 18-point cushion, 29-11.

Following a jumper by sophomore Tacarra Hayes, the Golden Eagles opened up the biggest lead of the night, 36-16, on a layup by sophomore Simone Rutledge.

In the first half, Hayes paced a balanced scoring attack with 10 points while sophomore Rachel Glidden had nine and Hopper totaled seven. Tech held a 29-18 advantage on the boards over APSU, who entered the game with the second-best rebounding margin in the OVC, while assisting on 11 of 16 made field goals.

Austin Peay turned the tide in the second half, opening on an 11-3 run less than five minutes into the period. Tech regained its composure and extended its lead back to double-digits, 49-38, on a pair of free throws by freshman Kylie Cook with 14:05 remaining.

The Lady Govs clawed their way back within two, 52-50, with 11:50 left in the game, but Tech responded with an 8-2 run thanks to a pair of 3-pointers by Glidden and a layup by Hayes with 10:08 to play. Unfortunately for the Golden Eagles, Tech's next basket would not come until the 4:49 mark when freshman Kellie Cook's 3-pointer ended a dry spell that lasted more than five minutes. APSU took advantage of TTU's shooting woes and scored 17 consecutive points to build a 69-60 lead before Cook's 3-pointer.

With just less than four minutes remaining, Hayes stole an APSU pass and took it all the way for a layup, cutting the Lady Govs' lead to four, 69-65, but that is as close as Tech would get before falling by eight points.

Tech missed several opportunities at the free throw line, especially in the second half as the Golden Eagles were just 4-of-12. For the game, Tech shot 45.5 percent (10-of-22) at the line.

The Lady Govs had ample opportunities to convert at the charity stripe as the Golden Eagles were whistled for 30 personal fouls, 11 more than their counterparts. APSU went to the line 39 times and made 25 of those attempts.

Despite out-rebounding APSU by 11 in the first half, Tech ended up losing the rebounding battle as Austin Peay hauled in 13 more rebounds than TTU in the second half.

Hayes led four Golden Eagles in double-figures with 18 points. Glidden came off the bench to score 15 as she knocked down four trifectas, while Kellie Cook had 12 and Kylie Cook finished with 10.

Tech has just two more regular season games remaining, and both of them will be played at the Eblen Center. The Golden Eagles take on SIU-Edwardsville in a non-conference game on Tuesday at 7 p.m. before wrapping up its OVC slate at home against Jacksonville State on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

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