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December 28, 2011

Golden Eagles turn focus to OVC after five-point loss to Marshall

Golden Eagles face UT Martin Saturday afternoon

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The prologue is now complete. Next comes the heart of the story, and the first chapter is a doozey.

The Tennessee Tech women’s basketball team wrapped up its pre-conference schedule Wednesday night in Eblen Center with a thriller, taking a 73-68 loss to the Marshall Thundering Herd but not without several plot twists and a nearly stunning ending.

Now Tech turns the page and heads into the 2011-12 Ohio Valley Conference schedule, hitting one of the high points of the tale in the first game of the league slate.

Picked first in the league’s preseason poll, defending champion Tech visits UT Martin, the team picked second in the poll. The two teams will tangle Saturday afternoon in Martin, with tipoff slated for 2 p.m.

Tech takes a 4-9 record into league play after Wednesday’s contest in which the Golden Eagles battled back from a huge deficit to make it a two-point game

Senior Brittany Darling scored a career-high 23 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots to pace Tech, while classmate Tacarra Hayes added 15 points, six rebounds and five steals. Junior Jala Harris scored 10.

Jasmine Shaw, Lateidra Elliott and Erica Woods each netted 12 points for Marshall (8-3), which has now won seven of its last right games.

Jasmine Shaw scored the first seven points in a 10-0 run that lifted Marshall out of a 4-4 tie and into a 14-4 lead with 12:28 to play in the first half.  Three times after that the Golden Eagles pulled to within seven points, once on a layup by Molly Heady and twice after Brittany Darling knocked down a pair of free throws. The last made it a 19-12 contest with 8:08 left.

The Marshall lead went back into double digits for nearly the remainder of the half, with Tech able to nick the difference just three times. The last time made it a nine-point game, 34-25, with 1:48 to play before the Thundering Herd scored the final three points of the period for their 12-point, 37-25 lead at halftime.

Marshall shot 45.2 percent (14-for-31) in the first half and held a 25-14 advantage in rebounds, while the Golden Eagles, who had just two offensive rebounds, shot 25.9 percent (7-for-27) including 0-for-5 from long distance.

The Herd widened its lead to 15 points a couple times in the second half, including 46-31, with 16:26 remaining, before Tech began its comeback.

The Golden Eagles got the difference down to five points with a 10-0 run, including six from Hayes and two free throws by Darling to make it 52-47. Tech whittled the margin all the way down to two points, 58-56, when Briana Jordan hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 4:33 to go.

But Elliott answered with a 3-pointer at the other end to regain the five-point edge. Tech was within three, 61-58, when Harris dropped in a jumper with 3:29 to play, but four Marshall free throws pushed the visitors’ lead back to six. Marshall was up by eight, 69-61, with 1:03 to play on a layup by Woods, before the teams exchanged a series of free throws throughout the final minute.

The game saw a total of 51 fouls whistled and the teams combined to shoot 64 free throws.

Tech shot 42 percent in the second half, finishing the game at 34.9 percent (22-for-63), including just 1-for-11 from long distance. The Golden were 23-for-30 at the free throw line for 77 percent.

Marshall shot 42.6 percent (23-for-54) for the game including 2-for-7 from outside the arc . The Herd went 25-for-34 at the line for 73.5 percent. Marshall held a 44-33 advantage on the glass.