Looking to start 3-0, Golden Eagles head to Belmont Sunday

Photo: Freshman Molly Heady is one of several newcomers who is having an impact on the Golden Eagles in 2010-11 (photo by Jim Dillon)

Golden Eagle women eye team's best start in six seasons


COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Looking to start the season with a 3-0 record and claim back-to-back road victories, the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team returns to Nashville Sunday for an afternoon contest at Belmont University. Tipoff is at 3 p.m.

The Golden Eagles (2-0) were in the Music City Thursday to claim an 81-65 victory over Lipscomb. The game Sunday will make it back-to-back contests against Atlantic Sun Conference foes for coach Sytia Messer's squad. Sophomore Tiara Hopper led the way with 18 points and 16 rebounds in the win over the Bison.

The Golden Eagles claimed a 72-69 win last year over the Bruins in Eblen Center, giving Tech a 19-10 all-time mark against Belmont. Tech has won 17 of the last 19 meetings with the Bruins.

If Tech is successful Sunday, it will give the Golden Eagles a 3-0 record to open the season for the first time since the 2005-06 campaign.

 In last year's contest with Belmont, Hopper had her second career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds and Tech had four players score in double figures on the way to a gut-check, come-from-behind three-point victory over the Bruins in Eblen Center.

Tech had to overcome an eight-point deficit in the final 10 minutes, aided by a clutch 3-pointer from Rachel Glidden in the final minute and some timely free throw shooting by Tacarra Hayes, who drained eight in a row down the stretch.

In addition to the double-double from Hopper, Glidden finished with 14 points and Hayes and Kellie Cook each scored 12. Cook added seven rebounds as the Golden Eagles held a 42-39 advantage on the boards.

Belmont also had four in double figures, led by Amber Rockwell with 22 points, six rebounds and six assists. Haley Nelson had 15 points and nine rebounds, Tereva Moore added 12 and Kristin Bunch scored 11.

The score was tied eight times and the lead swapped hands 13 times in the contest.

Each team had a one-point lead late in the game with the Bruins on top, 63-62 with 3:36 remaining.

Hopper (photo at left) blocked a shot with 1:52 remaining and Hayes blocked a layup attempt with 1:11 remaining.

The biggest shot of the night came on a 3-point try from Glidden with 55 seconds remaining, a shot that banked off the glass and put Tech ahead, 65-63.

Hopper stole the ball with 32 seconds left the proved to be criticial as both teams sank free throws down the stretch.

Tech's bench scored 37 points and had a 37-7 edge over the Belmont bench.

Fans can hear all the action on the Golden Eagle SPorts Network, with Roger Ealey courtside to call the action. In addition to the radio broadcast, the game can also be heard via the telephone or Internet with Free Teamine.

Following the game Sunday, Tech returns home to host Tennessee Wesleyan Saturday (Nov. 27) at 6 p.m. For tickets call (931 372-3940) or visit the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center.