By Layne Weitzel, TTU Sports Information
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Tennessee Tech gave SIUE a scare on the Cougars' home court early Thursday afternoon.
SIUE (12-10, 9-2 OVC) would hold on for the 65-58 win, maintaining the Cougars' No. 2 position in the Ohio Valley Conference standings.
"We fought our tails off against a very good basketball team," said head coach Kim Rosamond. "What you don't see through the radio or even on film is just how tough and physical (the SIUE Cougars) are. It was a battle, which we knew it would be. We didn't handle it very well in the first half. We had 11 turnovers at halftime that led to 12 points, and we were down 12, so there you go."
Tech's second-half performance nearly made up for its weak first half. SIUE opened up its biggest lead, 18 points, with 2:21 to go in the third quarter, but the Golden Eagles refused to roll over. They gradually hammered away at the deficit and, with a 9-0 run late in the fourth quarter, found themselves down just 60-55 to SIUE with 44 seconds to work with. However, SIUE hit five free throws in the remainder of the game to sneak away with the seven-point win.
In the second half, the Golden Eagles outscored the Cougars 35-30, including 25-17 in the fourth quarter alone, and out-rebounded them 27-18 (Tech totaled 14 offensive boards in the half after heading into the locker room with zero at halftime.)
"This is probably, outside of Belmont, the best rebounding basketball team in our league, and to be able to get 14 offensive boards in the second half is really positive," said Rosamond. "But at the same time, (it's) ridiculous that you only got zero in the first half. That's an area and a stat that could have made a difference in the game."
Freshman MacKenzie Coleman had a career day for Tech, leading all players with a season-best 22 points, a season-high tying 12 rebounds and five blocks. Today marked her fourth double-double of the year.
"There's a lot on Mackenzie's shoulders right now," said Rosamond. "There's a lot that is being asked of her, and I think for the most part, she is really stepping up to the plate. She wasn't happy with how she played on Saturday (vs. UT Martin), and I think it says a lot about that young woman for her to come out tonight. I'm really proud of how MacKenzie fought and battled."
Yaktavia "Shug" Hickson followed offensively with 10 points along with two steals and a block. Jordan Brock also had two steals and was unselfish with the basketball, giving out four assists to lead the team.
Unfortunately, Tech's shaky start would come back to bite the team at the end of the game. The Golden Eagles made just one of their nine first-quarter field goal attempts and were out-rebounded 21-14 in the opening half, heading into halftime down 35-23. Tech also only got 19 looks at the basket compared to SIUE's 36.
"We have to learn and grow from this," said Rosamond. "One of these nights, we're going to get everybody on the same night having a good night, and it's going to be a different result for us."