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December 21, 2010

Tech takes over top spot in OVC with 14-point win over SEMO

Tech alone in first place in OVC with 3-0 league mark

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Krystal Stirrup was 15 days old the last time the Tennessee Tech women’s basketball team roared out to an 8-2 start. Nobody else on this year’s Golden Eagle roster was even born yet.

That puts into perspective just what the current squad has accomplished in the first month of the season, following a 62-48 victory over Southeast Missouri Tuesday night in Eblen Center.

Tech’s win, coupled with a three-point loss by Morehead State at Austin Peay Tuesday night, puts the Golden Eagles alone in first place in the Ohio Valley Conference with a 3-0 mark.

This time it was a balanced attack and tenacious work on the boards that led to the win. Tech held a 48-31 margin in rebounds, including 22 on the offensive glass. SEMO was held to just five offensive rebounds. It led to a 21-1 difference for Tech in second-chance points.

Tech’s fourth win in a row upped its record to 8-2 overall and 3-0 in Ohio Valley Conference play. The last time Tech opened with that record was in the 1989-90 season. 

Southeast Missouri, suffering its eighth consecutive road loss, slipped to 4-8 overall and 1-3 within the league.

For the second consecutive game, juniors Tacarra Hayes and Brittany Darling led the way, each coming within one rebound of notching double-doubles. Hayes had 13 points and nine rebounds, and also dished out four assists. Darling added 13 points and nine rebounds, and blocked two shots.

Freshman Molly Heady (photo above) and junior Rachel Glidden also scored in double figures for Tech to provide a balanced attack. Heady finished with 13 points on 6-for-9 shooting while Glidden had 10 points. Point guard Briana Jordan had four points and four steals.

Katie Norman led the Redhawks in scoring, the lone player to hit double figures with 17 points, also hitting 6-for-9 from the field. Norman added six rebounds and four assists.  Karley Evans and Brittany Harrell each scored nine.

It was a satisfying victory for Tech, which had dropped six of the last seven to the Redhawks including two of the last three in Eblen Center.

Despite 33 percent shooting in the first half, the Golden Eagles were able to forge a sic-point lead at the intermission on the strength of a 7-0 run midway through the period. After the lead changed hands twice and was tied twice in the opening minutes, Tech grabbed the lead on a free throw by Hayes and a layup by Molly Heady.

Up one, 12-11, with 10:13 remaining, Rachel Glidden poured through a 3-pointer and followed with a jumper, making it a six-point TTU margin. Darling’s layup with 5:58 left made it 19-11 for Tech’s largest lead of the half.

Southeast Missouri cut it to three after a 3-pointer by Bailie Roberts and a jumper by Katie Norman, but couldn’t get any closer. SEMO was within three points three more times, before Molly Heady’s 3-pointer with four seconds left pushed the cushion back to six at the break.

The Redhawks chipped the difference down to two points to get the second half underway on a 3-pointer by Evans to make it 31-29.

Tech scored the next 12 points, including four each from Hayes and Heady, and suddenly the lead was 43-29 with 10:08 to go. The Golden Eagles continued to add to their advantage, puffing the lead to as many as 19 points at 53-34 with just under five minutes left.

Next on the agenda for Messer’s squad is a brief holiday break, followed by two non-conference games. Tech visits Central Florida on Wednesday, Dec. 29, for a 3:30 (CT) p.m. contest against the Knights. The Golden Eagles are back in Eblen Center on Sunday, Jan. 2, to host St. Louis at 2 p.m. in the first game of an afternoon doubleheader.