November 13, 2012

Zips slip past Golden Eagles with late-game surge


COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech just ran out of comebacks.

The Golden Eagles fought from behind and battled back over and over Tuesday night, but Akron used a late scoring spurt to lift the Zips to a 78-67 non-conference victory in Eblen Center despite a career-high 31 points from sophomore Diamond Henderson.

The Golden Eagles (1-1) continue their long November homestand with a game Saturday night against Rice University. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. For tickets, visit the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center or call (931) 372-3940.

Akron junior Rachel Tecca, projected to go in the top 30 in the 2013 WNBA draft, needed eight points to reach 1,000 in her career, and she got that early in the first half. She finished the night with 26 points and 12 rebounds to lead Akron (2-0), which placed five players in double digits.

Kacie Cassell added 13 points, five rebounds and nine assists, and Taylor Ruper scored 12. Sina King and Anita Brown scored 10 each, and King had a game-best 13 rebounds.

Only seven players saw action for the Zips, who are projected to finish second in the East Division of the Mid-American Conference.  

Henderson, whose previous career-best was 16 last week against Tennessee Wesleyan, was 9-for-17 from the field and 12-for-15 at the free throw line on her way to 31 points. She also had four rebounds and three assists.

Katherine Barker also notched a career-high with 10 points and grabbed six rebounds, while Lashay Davis netted 10. Kellie Cook finished with eight.

Tech never found the range, shooting 35 percent from the field (21-for-60), includig 6-for-16 from long range. Akron shot 40.9 percent for the game, improving from 37 percent in the first half to 45 percent in the second.

The teams were nearly identical at the free throw line, Tech going 19-for-26 and Akron going 19-for-28. The Zips had two crucial advantages in the final stats, owning a 47-39 edge in rebounds and an 18-16 margin in turnovers. Akron also posted 13 assists while Tech dished out seven helpers.

The biggest difference on the box score was found in second-chance points. Akron had 20 and Tech had five.

Akron bolted on top early, building a seven-point lead just five minutes into the contest, including three straight baskets by Rachel Tecca to start the contest. Tech crept to within two, but the Zips rode a 3-pointer by Ruper and two more baskets by Tecca to move on top by 11, 24-13, with 8:38 to play before the break.

The Golden Eagles came back with a 10-0 run, sparked by Diamond Henderson and capped with a 3-pointer by Davis, to make it a 24-23 contest. Tech's first lead of the game came with 2:20 to play in the half on a layup by Demery to put the Golden Eagle on top, 31-30.

Akron outscored Tech 6-2 down the stretch to carry a 36-33 lead into halftime.

Down eight in the second half, the Golden Eagles rallied once again, and took a 59-58 lead with 6:03 remaining. That's when Akron's surge took control of the contest with a 13-0 run, with scoring contributions from Tecca, King, Cassell, Brown and Luburgh.

Akron came out of that with a 71-59 lead and Tech could never recover.