By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
RICHMOND, Ky. – A corner look by Aleksa Jugovic from beyond the arc fell just short for the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team Saturday evening, as the Golden Eagles fell to the Ohio Valley Conference East Division champion Eastern Kentucky Colonels in Richmond, 70-67.
Fresh off the best performance of his career, Jugovic had an open look at the potential game-tying bucket with just nine seconds on the clock, but overtime was not meant to be for the second time in as many contests with the Colonels. EKU's Corey Walden grabbed the rebound and knocked down two free throws with five seconds left to ice the game. Torrance Rowe made a layup with seconds on the clock to provide the final score.
The Golden Eagles fought tooth and nail against the Colonels, nearly forcing overtime just one month after defeating its East Division rival in an extra period in Cookeville, 83-81. Tech just didn't have an answer for preseason All-OVC guard Corey Walden, who scored a game-high 35 points, including 29 in the second half.
EKU shot 51 percent from the field on the night, doing much of the damage inside the paint. The Golden Eagles managed a field goal percentage of just 39.0 for the game, but drained 10 of their 24 shots from beyond the arc, nipping at the heels of the Colonels all night. Neither team ever truly took control of the game, with the largest lead going to Eastern Kentucky at seven points.
Walden scored exactly half of the EKU point total over 28 minutes of action, receiving little help from anyone not named Eric Stutz. The fellow senior scored 17 points and doled out five assists. No other Colonel scored in double figures.
The Golden Eagles destroyed the Colonels on the boards to help compensate for the difference in shooting percentage, out-rebounding EKU 40-24, including a staggering 17-3 advantage on the offensive glass.
The Tech performance on the boards was so dominant, that junior big man Charles Jackson nearly tied EKU's output as a team, corralling a career-high 17 rebounds on the night. He also scored 15 points to tally his 18th double-double on the year and blocked two shots.
Jugovic followed up his career night at Morehead State with another solid showing in Richmond, scoring 10 points while hitting three of his five 3-point attempts. He also dished out four assists while playing a career-high 32 minutes.
Junior guard Torrance Rowe bounced back from a tough night offensively on Thursday, leading the Golden Eagles with 16 points against the Colonels. He also led the team with five assists while not making a turnover and playing a team-high 38 minutes.
Playing in his 120th and final career game, fifth-year senior Javon McKay closed out a very solid career in the purple and gold with another outstanding performance. The swingman finished the night with 13 points and five rebounds, capping a nine-game stretch where he scored in double figures six times.
Gritting out a solid 23 minutes despite nagging injuries, fellow senior Dwan Caldwell provided a lift on the glass, hauling in five rebounds while adding seven points. Also a senior, Jordan Johnson fittingly ended his Golden Eagle career by making a 3-pointer in the contest. It marked the 35th career contest in which he successfully drained a trey for the Golden Eagles.
Photo by Jim Dillon