Golden Eagles pull away in second half over Lady Bulldogs

Golden Eagles pull away in second half over Lady Bulldogs

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. --  A three-minute flurry early in the second half proved to be the difference as Tennessee Tech shook off a sluggish first half and a scrappy Tennessee Wesleyan squad to capture a 75-42 non-conference women's basketball victory Saturday evening in Eblen Center.

After wedging open the contest with a 13-2 run to begin the second period, the Golden Eagles settled down and pulled away for the 33-point win.

Tech improved to 4-0, the team's best start since 1992, and remained the only unbeaten team in the Ohio Valley Conference. Tennessee Wesleyan, an NAIA opponent from Chattanooga, stayed above .500 with a 4-3 overall record following the loss.

Up just five points at the intermission, Tech opened the second half with a 13-2 run to pry open a tight contest and build a double-digit lead. Tech got a couple of baskets in the run by junior post Brittany Darling (shown in photo), a 3-pointer from sophomore Kellie Cook, and layups by junior Tacarra Hayes and freshmen Candace Parson and Molly Heady.

From there, Tech slowly added to its advantage and held the visiting Lady Bulldogs to just 16 second half points. Tennessee Wesleyan was held to 22.7 percent shooting (5-for-22) in the second half.

"The post players needed to show up in the second half," Darling said. "We didn't get many rebounds in the first half, and we knew we had to come out strong and pick it up."

Four Golden Eagles reached double figures in the scoring column, topped by Darling with 12 points and eight rebounds in just 11 minutes of action. Glidden and Jordan added 11 points each and Heady finished with 10.

Amy Jo Castor was the leader for Tennessee Wesleyan with eight points and four rebounds, while Heather Gibson added seven points and four rebounds. Rochelle Davidson, playing in her hometown after prepping at Cookeville High School, added five points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots

After beginning the game by nailing six of their first eight shots during the opening six minutes to build a 16-9 lead, the Golden Eagles hit a cold spell midway in the first half. Tech was just 2-for-19 from the field during the next nine minutes, and Tennessee Wesleyan hung close. Tech's lead was trimmed to four points with 5:38 remaining, 21-17, on a layup by Davidson.

Freshman Candace Parson hit a jumper in the lane and sophomore Katherine Barker entered the game and quickly hit a driving layup, and suddenly the Golden Eagles had regained control with an eight-point advantage. The lead grew to nine points, 28-19, after Jordan poured through a 3-pointer with three minutes left in the half.

Tech's largest lead of the first half was an 11-point edge, 30-19, on two free throws by Rachel Glidden, but Gibson knocked down a 3-pointer with two minutes left to cut it back to single digits. Tech was on top by five, 31-26, at halftime.

Tech improved from 31.4 percent first half shooting to connect on 45.9 percent (17-for-37) in the second half, finishing the game with a 38.9 mark from the field. Tech had a 48-36 edge in rebounds and forced 27 Bulldog turnovers

On Monday night, the Golden Eagles will participate in the Cookeville Christmas Parade, then return to action on Wednesday when they play the second game of a doubleheader in Eblen Center. Following the men's encounter with SIU-Edwardsville at 6 p.m., the Golden Eagle women will host arch-rival Middle Tennessee at 8 p.m.

Tickets for the game, as well as 2010-11 season tickets, are on sale at the Athletic Ticket Office in Eblen Center or by calling (931) 372-3940.