Defense, balanced scoring lead to big exhibition win over Bryan College

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech used a smothering defense to force 34 turnovers with 26 steals and had balanced scoring from the length of the bench to earn an 86-41 victory over visiting Bryan College Monday night in an exhibition contest in front of 1,015 fans in Eblen Center.

On a night that opened with the unveiling of yet another Ohio Valley Conference championship banner hanging from the rafters of Eblen Center – in recognition of the team’s record 16th OVC title last winter – third-year coach Sytia Messer’s team looked every bit the part of the league’s preseason favorite.

All 11 Golden Eagles who saw action scored in the first competition of the season. As an exhibition game, neither the outcome nor the statistics officially count, but that didn’t stop Messer’s squad from giving the fans a complete performance.  

Four Golden Eagles tallied in double figures in the scoring column, topped by sophomore Briana Jordan with 15 points in 6-for-9 shooting. She added four assists and three steals. Kellie Cook scored 12, all in the second half while Tacarra Hayes had 11 points, five rebounds, six steals and four assists and Molly Heady added 11 points, four rebounds and five steals.
  
Tech shot 48.6 percent from the field and held a 42-34 edge on the glass. Bryan 29.2 percent (14-for-48) from the field.

Bethany McArthur led Bryan with 12 points, all coming in the first half.

For the record, Jordan scored the first points of the game and Kylie Cook drained the first 3-pointer. Those baskets ignited an 18-0 run to open the game as the Golden Eagle defense held Bryan scoreless more than eight minutes to start the contest.

Perhaps the most impressive number to come from the 18-point start was the fact that seven different players notched points in the scorebook, before Jordan’s second basket of the night at the 12:06 mark capped the run.

In between, Tech got a 3-pointer from Molly Heady, baskets by Brittany Darling, Candace Parson and Diamond Henderson, and two free throws by Hayes.

Carrie Goodson hit a 3-pointer at the 11:45 mark of the first half for Bryan’s first points of the night, and Morgan Brunette followed with a jumper to make it 18-5.

The 13-point difference was as close as Bryan could get as Tech answered with the next eight points and pushed the lead above the 20-point mark. The lead ballooned to as many as 30 points, 42-12, with 2:50 to play in the half on a layup by Parson, before Bryan outscored Tech 9-1 down the stretch to make it 43-21 at halftime.

The margin grew to 30 points early in the second half, and topped out at 47 points in the final minute when Tech went up 86-39.

The Golden Eagles get the regular season underway Friday evening when they journey to Johnson City, Tenn., for a 6 p.m. game at East Tennessee State in the first round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.  ETSU opened the year with a 65-47 exhibition win over King College Monday night.