Golden Eagles earn key OVC win, top Murray State 80-67

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- With Kellie Cook hitting from long range, Tacarra Hayes driving the lane for layups and everyone pounding the glass, the Tennessee Tech women’s basketball team earned a key Ohio Valley Conference victory Thursday night in Eblen Center, downing Murray State 80-67 in front of 3,180 pink-clad, happy fans.

In avenging a 10-point loss at Murray a month ago, the Golden Eagles improved to 10-14 overall and 5-9 in the tight OVC race. Murray State left town with the same 10-14 overall mark and a 5-8 league worksheet.

With five league victories, the Golden Eagles are just one game out of fourth place in the win column.

The Golden Eagles answered the league’s highest-scoring offense with a variety on offense, led by Cook’s career-high 26 points. The freshman from Madison, Ala., was 5-for-9 from long distance and 9-for-17 overall.

Hayes finished the contest with 24 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while freshman Tiara Hopper added 10 points and seven rebounds.

The Golden Eagles owned a 41-29 advantage in rebounds, with Kylie Cook grabbing seven misses and Krystal Stirrup adding six boards and six points.

Kayla Vance was Murray’s leading scorer with 27 points, while Mallory Luckett added 12 points and four assists. Mariah Robinson had a solid effort with eight points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots for the Racers.

The win snapped a six-game win streak by the Racers over the Golden Eagles, and gave Tech a 55-13 all-time margin in the series.

Tech allowed the Racers to take a 2-0 lead, then took control and never trailed after Kellie Cook tied the contest and followed with a 3-pointer for a 5-2 TTU lead. Tech led by as many as nine in the opening half before taking a seven-point, 38-31 lead into halftime.

Tech’s lead reached double digits for the first time when Hopper hit a jumper with 15:58 remaining to make it 46-36. The Racers pulled within six points twice after that, the last time at 48-42 on two free throws by Kayla Lowe.

Hayes hit a driving layup and Cook a 3-pointer and the margin was back to two figures. Tech’s largest margin, a 16-point lead, came with 6:28 to play on a jumper by Hayes.

Tech will host UT Martin Saturday night at 5:30 p.m. to open another OVC doubleheader in Eblen Center. Tickets are available at the Athletic Ticket Office in Eblen Center or by calling (931) 372-3940.