BIRMINGHAM, Ala. --- A very one-sided first half morphed into a nail-biting second half that saw the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles nearly pull one out before taking a 61-55 loss at Samford Saturday afternoon.
As the first half came to a close things seemed eerily similar to Tech’s first-half performance against Alabama A&M last week. Shots weren’t falling and TTU’s opponent seemed to be in full control of the game.
Not wanting a repeat of that contest, the Golden Eagles were able to claw their way back into the game, outscoring the Bulldogs in the second half 36-27.
Sophomore Briana Jordan and senior Tacarra Hayes provided a solid 1-2 punch in the second half, accounting for 29, of Tech’s 36 points while shooting a combined 9-of-19 from the field. Hayes backed up her steady shooting from the field with another impressive performance from the charity stripe going 10-of-12.
The Golden Eagles also got a quick energy boost in the second half from junior Katherine Barker, who proved to be a menace on defense for the Golden Eagles. Down by three with a 1:17 to go in the game, Barker blocked Paige Anderson’s shot and recovered the rebound to give the Golden Eagles a chance to tie it late.
Barker was just one part of the Tech block party that haunted the Samford shooters as the Golden Eagles combined for eight blocks, with senior Brittany Darling matching her career-high with four.
The TTU comeback, spurred on by Hayes’ 21-point performance in the second half, brought the Golden Eagles within three points at 53-50 with 2:23 left in the game. The Bulldogs were able to withstand the Tech flurry as they connected on 8-of-10 free throws to secure the win.
Hayes finished with a game-high 27 points, while shooting 10-of-12 from the field, while Jordan tallied 14 points, six of which came in the opening 2:29 of the second frame.
On the boards Samford owned the edge at 40-35, but it was an even closer affair in the second slate as the Bulldogs beat out the Golden Eagles 20-19. Hayes tallied a game-high eight rebounds, while junior Kylie Cook finished just one shy of her career-high with seven.
In the first half, thing remained close early on as Samford held a small three-point lead at 9-6 just six minutes into the game. The Bulldogs were able to take control of the game behind some accurate shooting as they put together an 18-5 run to extend their lead to 27-11 with just five minutes left in the half. Their largest lead of the game came with 2:12 left in the first half as the Bulldogs extended their lead to 17 at 30-13.
Anderson, Hannah Dawson and Ruth Ketcham proved to be a three-headed monster during the game as they accounted for 40 of Samford’s 61 points, while shooting a combined 13-of-24 (.541) from the field. Anderson’s team-high 17 points was boosted by a perfect 7-of-7 showing from the line.
Tech’s game against Samford begins a stretch of five-of-seven games on the road, with finals scheduled for next week. After closing their books, the Golden Eagles will take a trip to the sportsman’s paradise of Louisiana for a pair of games beginning with Louisiana Monroe Monday, Dec. 19 at 2 p.m. TTU then visits Louisiana Tech Dec. 21, at 7 p.m., before returning home to the friendly confines of Eblen Center Wednesday, Dec. 28 for a 7 p.m. tipoff against Marshall.