Darling beats buzzer, Golden Eagles edge Drake, 56-55

Darling beats buzzer, Golden Eagles edge Drake, 56-55

Video of Coach Sytia Messer talking to team after Saturday's victory

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Brittany Darling grabbed an offensive rebound with two seconds to play and her putback off the glass beat the buzzer – barely – to lift Tennessee Tech to an emotional 56-55 victory Saturday afternoon at Drake University.

Her 10th rebound of the game gave the 6-foot-5 junior center a double-double, and ignited an eruption of celebration on the Tech bench. Tech's fourth road win of the season improved the Golden Eagle record to 6-2 this winter.

Drake, a contender in the Missouri Valley Conference who had defeated Tech two years ago in Eblen Center in the only previous meeting between the two teams, slipped to 5-4.

Darling finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, one of four Golden Eagles to score in double figures on a night when the visitors had trouble finding the range. Tech shot 32.8 percent (21-for-64) from the field and 28 percent (7-for-28) from long range.

Tacarra Hayes had 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists while Kyle Cook added 12 points and five rebounds. Kellie Cook had 11 points.

Kristen Turk led all scorers, finishing with 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocked shots for the Bulldogs. Rachael Hackbarth scored 12  while Angela Christianson netted nine.
The lead changed hands five times in the first half before Turk gave Drake a double-figure adge with her long-distance accuracy. She was 4-for-5 from beyond the arc in the first half, helping the Bulldogs climb on top by as many as 12 points late in the half.

Briana Jordan (left) and Kellie Cook hit baskets and Kylie Cook drained a 3-pointer as Tech used a 7-0 run to close the half down by five, 32-27.

The Golden Eagles pulled within three early in the half, but Tech's cold shooting continued and the Bulldogs used back-to-back layups by Turk and two free throws by Stephanie Running to go up by 11 points, 51-40, with 6:04 remaining.

That's when the Golden Eagles began to hack away at the difference, beginning with a 3-pointer by Kylie Cook. Hayes made two free throws and Kellie Cook knocked down a trey and Tech was within four, 52-48, with 4:31 left.

Darling's jumper made it a two-point game, but Christianson answered with a 3-pointer to regain a five-point Drake advantage.

Half a minute later, Kellie Cook hit a 3-pointer with 1:37 remaining and it was a two-point contest.

Darling grabbed a rebound on a missed shot by Turk with one minute left, and was fouled soon after. She made one free throw to cut the Drake lead to 55-54.

With 28 seconds to play, Darling's defensive stand forced a missed shot and Kylie Cook snapped down the rebound and the Golden Eagles called a timeout with 19 seconds left to set up a final shot.

With five seconds left, Kylie Cook's 3-pointer just missed and Hayes caught the rebound at the free throw line. Her 13-footer was off the mark, and Darling was underneath to pull the rebound and score the game-winner.

Tech finished with a 45-38 edge in rebounds.

The Golden Eagles are out of action for the next week to take final exams, then return to Ohio Valley Conference action Sunday (Dec. 19) by hosting preseason league favorite Eastern Illinois at 1 p.m. in Eblen Center.