MOREHEAD, Ky. – In this case, Tennessee Tech will settle for the consolation prize.
Morehead State used 54 percent shooting and 22 assists to claim an 81-74 victory over the Golden Eagles Saturday Night in Johnson Arena, but the only thing the host Eagles got out of the win was the chance to send their seniors off on a positive note.
Earlier in the day, Morehead State was eliminated from contention for the upcoming Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.
For the Golden Eagles, meanwhile, the consolation prize is the No. 3 seed in the tourney, despite the loss. Just down the road a few miles, Eastern Kentucky was defeated by Tennessee State, throwing the tourney seeding to a tie-breaker.
Tech (12-18/9-7 OVC) wins the tie-breaker with EKU and TSU, giving coach Jim Davis' team the best possible outcome for the night, win or lose. Morehead State (12-17/6-10 OVC) is finished for the year.
Tech will play Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m. in the Nashville Municipal Auditorium, facing the winner of Wednesday's game between Jacksonville State and SIU Edwardsville.
The Tech offense was saddled with four fouls on it's two leading scorers, Diamond Henderson and Hannah Goolsby, and the Golden Eagle defense couldn't stop Morehead State's hot-shooting. The Eagles shot 55 percent (29-for-53) from the field.
After fighting to a halftime tie, 35-35, Morehead State used an early 9-0 run in the second half to open an eight-point lead, 47-39. The lead grew to as much as 13 points, 58-45, before Tech rallied.
The Golden Eagles went on a 12-3 run, sparked by back-to-back baskets from Ellie Iaciofano in heavy traffic. A layup by Molly Heady made it 61-57 with 6:10 to play.
A 3-pointer by Terrice Robinson with 3:41 to play put the MSU lead back to eight, 70-62, and the Eagles were able to withstand any more Tech charges down the stretch. The lead went to 10 points four times, before finishing at the final seven-point spread.
Henderson finished with 25 points while Goolsby added 17. The two were 15-for-17 at the free throw line. Molly Heady finished with a game-high nine rebounds, while scoring six. She raised her career total to 983, putting her 17 points away from the 1,000-point plateau.
Tech shot 41 percent (25-for-61) for the game and 26.7 percent (4-for-15) from long range. The Golden Eagles held a 37-31 edge in rebounds, including a 30-16 margin at halftime. Tech had eight assists.
Morehead State had three players in double figures led by Almesha Jones with 209 points. She also dished off 10 assists for a double-double. Mackenzie Aldredge fouled out with 14 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals. Robinson also scored 14 and had six assists.
The Eagles hit 54.7 percent (29-for-53) from the field and 40.9 percent (9_for-22)