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Golden Eagles roll to seventh straight, top SEMO 69-59

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. -- Southeast Missouri appeared to be forging a comeback in the second half, but the Redhawks made a grave mistake -- they chose to foul Tennessee Tech and put the Golden Eagles at the line.

Pretty much, game over. Tennessee Tech was 16-for-17 at the charity stripe in the second half including eight straight in the final 1:33 as the Golden Eagles captured their seventh in a row with a 69-59 Ohio Valley Conference road win over the Redhawks.

Freshman Molly Heady scored a career-high 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead coach Sytia Messer's first-place squad to complete a sweep on its four-game road swing. Tech improved to 16-4 overall and 10-1 in the OVC, hanging onto first by one game over Morehead State.

The MSU Eagles come to Cookeville Saturday for a showdown in Eblen Center, but first Tech will host Eastern Kentucky Thursday night.

Heady was one of three Golden Eagles in double figures as Tech took control of a close game with a strong second half. Junior Tacarra Hayes (bottom photo) had a double-double with 18 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. She also dished out five assists before fouling out with four minutes to play. Freshman Briana Jordan added 10 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals.

The Golden Eagles were 20-for-24 at the free throw line for the game for 83.3 percent, and owned a 42-34 advantage in rebounds.

Southeast Missouri, which slipped to 7-14 overall and 3-8 in the OVC, was paced by Katie Norman with 14 points and Erika Lane with 12.

The first half saw the score tied six times and the lead change hands six more times as a large, partisan SEMO crowd looked for an upset. A jumper by Bailie Roberts with 2:46 to play in the first half tied the contest at 25-25. A minute later, Hayes drained two free throws and with 30 seconds to play in the half, Heady's jumper sent the Golden Eagles to the break with a 29-25 lead.

Tech stormed out with an 11-2 run early in the second half to build a double-digit advantage, and the Golden Eagles slowly built on that until it grew to 18 points. Tech's 54-36 lead with 8:04 remaining was the largest in the game.

But the Redhawks matched Tech with an 11-2 run of their own, including back-to-back 3-pointers by Norman and SHelah Fields, and soon the Tech lead was cut to nine, 56-47.

Jordan halted that with a 3-pointer with 3:38 to play, and Tech was back on top by a dozen.

Hoping to cut into that, the Redhawks began to foul and it proved fatal. Jordan and Heady each made a pair of free tosses, then freshman Keisha Moore made four straight and the lead bulged back to as many as 15. SEMO scored the final five points of the game in the final seconds to make it a 10-point difference in the books.

Tech hosts EKU Thursday followed by Morehead State on Saturday. Both games tipoff at 5:30 p.m. in the Eblen Center. Tickets are on sale at the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center or by calling (931) 372-3940.

Photos by Tony Marable