COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Middle Tennessee State fans can exhale.
The Tennessee Tech women's basketball team kept the Blue Raider faithful quiet for most of the night, nearly stunning the Sun Belt Conference favorites before missed shots in overtime cost the Golden Eagles a 65-59 loss in the latest in the long-time, bitter rivalry between the two evenly-matched arch-enemies.
Kortni Jones scored 24 points to lead MTSU (3-1) while Icelyn Elie and Ebony Rowe added 12 apiece.
Tech (2-2), which had won all four previous overtime games against MTSU, was led by Diamond Henderson with 16 points. Kylie Cook and Jala Harris netted nine each.
Tech had the edge in rebounds (39-35), steals, blocked shots, assists and 3-point shooting. Field goal percentage was virtually even until three overtime misses by Tech. MTSU was 9-for-11 at the free throw line while Tech converted just 4-for-9 at the stripe.
Middle outscored Tech in the paint, 42-24. The Golden Eagle bench outscored the Blue Raider support crew, 22-4.
Tech held a 56-52 lead with 1:44 to play in regulation following a layup by Henderson. Jones made two free throws with 1:27 remaining, and Rowe scored a layup to tie the contest with 25 seconds to play.
Harris opened the overtime with a layup for a 58-56 TTU lead, but Rowe's jumper tied things. Tech was on top one more time when Harris made one free throw for a 59-58 lead with 3:10 left.
Jones' layup with 2:57 to play gave the Blue Raiders the 60-59 edge, and a 3-pointer by Kellie Cook went in-and-out. Jones added a layup and free throw for a three-point play and a four-point lead. Two freebies by Shanice Cason accounted for the final margin.
The Blue Raiders took a 33-29 edge into the intermission after shooting 52 percent in the first half including 4-for-6 from outside the arc. Tech shot 45.8 percent in the half, and owned a strong 18-8 edge in rebounds, but had lost 10 turnovers.
Kylie Cook's 3-for-4 from long range during the opening 20 minutes netted nine points and led Tech at halftime as seven different players notched points. For MTSU, Kortni Jones dropped in a dozen by halftime, going 5-for-6 from the field.
Following a brief break in action for Thanksgiving, the Golden
Eagles are right back on the Eblen Center floor Saturday night when
they host another Sun Belt Conference foe, Louisiana-Monroe, at 7
The Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center will be open Wednesday during regular business hours, then close Thursday and Friday. It will re-open Saturday at 6 p.m. for the contest.