Hayes named first-team all-OVC; Kellie Cook earns all-newcomer team honors
Mar 04, 2010
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - In a season when Tacarra Hayes led the Golden
Eagles in nearly every statistical category, it was only fitting
that the sophomore was named first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference
on Thursday. Hayes received her recognition at a reception held at
the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Nashville a night before the OVC
semifinals kickoff at the Bridgestone Arena (formerly the Sommet
Hayes was not the only Golden Eagle on the Tech women's
basketball team to be honored Thursday as freshman Kellie Cook was
voted to the OVC all-newcomer team.
OVC postseason awards were voted on by conference coaches and
sports information directors.
Hayes earns her first career All-OVC honor after leading the
team in scoring (16.9 ppg), rebounding (5.8 rpg), assists (4.5
apg), steals (1.8 spg) and blocked shots (0.5 bpg). She also ranked
among the conference leaders in many of those categories, finishing
the season second in the OVC in scoring, third in steals, fourth in
assists and 12th in rebounding. Hayes was also ninth in
field goal percentage at 42.4 percent.
"She's a tough match-up because of her ability to get to the
hole. Her first step is as quick as I've seen, and it makes her
difficult to defend," said Sytia Messer, TTU women's basketball
coach. "She has the ability to pull up off the dribble or even play
in the post. She's an all-around player."
After playing much of last season as an undersized post player,
the 5-foot-7 Hayes handled most of the point guard duties for the
Golden Eagles this season in addition to seeing time at shooting
guard, small forward and power forward.
"In my opinion, she was the most improved player in the OVC,"
Messer said. "I was very impressed with her this season, and she is
definitely deserving. She was a clutch player and the person we
went to down the stretch when we needed a basket."
Hayes was indeed Tech's go-to player. In the final five minutes
of games this season, Hayes scored 77 points while shooting 57.5
percent from the field. In comparison, Kellie Cook was second on
the team with 34 points scored in the final five minutes of
Hayes was twice named OVC Player of the Week throughout the
2009-10 season, the only Golden Eagle to earn that distinction. In
the first week of the season, Hayes picked up Player of the Week
honors after also earning All-Tournament Team accolades at the
Islander Tip-Off Classic. She led the team in scoring, rebounding
and assists for the tournament as she scored a then-career-high 21
points against Alabama before totaling 16 points, six assists and
six rebounds in a win over Air Force. Hayes picked up her second
OVC Player of the Week nod after scoring 39 points in a win over
Austin Peay and nearly recording a triple-double two nights later
against Tennessee State.
Hayes also made her mark on the Tennessee Tech record book this
season in a memorable performance against in-state rival Tennessee
State. On February 15, Hayes was nearly unstoppable as she scored
41 points in a crucial Golden Eagle victory on the road. Her 41
points marked the highest single-game point total for any Tennessee
Tech guard in school history, a mark that Hayes had set earlier in
the season when she scored 39 points versus Austin Peay.
In addition to all of her high-scoring games, Hayes also put her
stamp on the season when she recorded just the 10th
triple-double in TTU history on January 7 against Morehead State.
Hayes finished the contest with 15 points, 12 assists and 10
rebounds as she became the first Golden Eagle to accomplish the
feat since 1994.
"Tacarra had some great performances this season," Messer said.
"I think we're going to see her elevate her game to a new level
Cook began her Tennessee Tech career with a 22-point scoring
performance in her first collegiate game against Alabama, and she
remained one of Tech's primary scoring options all season long. A
5-foot-11 guard from Madison, Ala., Cook created mismatches for
opposing defenses due to her ability to score from anywhere on the
"One of the biggest things with Kellie is her size," Messer
said. "She's a good size guard and difficult to defend. We run a
lot of players for her to post up, and then we also run plays for
her to get open from three."
Not only did Cook excel statistically on the court, but she was
also the vocal leader and only team captain for the Golden Eagles -
a great deal of responsibility for a true freshman.
"Kellie had a lot of pressure on her and did a great job,"
Messer said. "She was our captain and a freshman, and she handled
it with grace and class. She does so much right off of the court,
and it carries over on the court."
Messer also noted that Cook's work ethic was second-to-none.
"She was always the first one in the gym getting extra shots
up," Messer said. "She is always going above and beyond what is
asked. Her leadership is tremendous."
For the season, Cook averaged 12.6 points per game, the second
highest scoring average on the team. She also averaged 4.7 rebounds
and 1.4 assists per contest. Always a threat from beyond the arc,
Cook knocked down 47 3-pointers on the season, the second most for
a freshman in the OVC behind her sister, Kylie.
Cook set a career high for points in a game against Murray State
on February 11 when she hit a career-high five 3-points en route to
scoring 26 points. One night game earlier, Cook recorded her first
career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds against
During the regular season, Cook once earned OVC Freshman of the
Week honors when she posted a team-leading 20.3 points per game
during a three game stretch in early January. She also chipped in
with 6.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 steals per game. Against
Eastern Kentucky, Cook got the Golden Eagles off to a fast start,
scoring 13 of the team's first 15 points on three 3-pointers, a
pair of free throws and a mid-range jumper to help put the team
ahead, 15-0, less than four minutes into the game before tying her
then-career-high with 23 points.
Hayes and Cook helped the Golden Eagles to a 14-16 record
overall and 8-10 mark in the OVC. Tech advanced to the OVC
Tournament after tying for fourth place in the conference regular
season standings before falling to Austin Peay to conclude the
season. The team's 14 wins this season were the most since 2005-06.