COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The chicken or the egg? It's difficult to tell whether the defense keyed Tennessee Tech's offense to such an efficient outing, or the smooth-running, balanced offensive effort allowed the Golden Eagle defense to shine.
Either way, the host Golden Eagles (11-13/3-8 OVC) captured an Ohio Valley Conference contest Saturday in Eblen Center with a 72-59 victory over Jacksonville State (9-17/2-9 OVC).
Junior Charles Jackson led the attack with 17 points and tied his career-high with 16 rebounds, his 15th double-double of the season. Sophomore DeOndre Haynes added 12 points and grabbed a career-high seven rebounds, senior Dwan Caldwell had 11 points and seven boards, and Torrance Rowe finished with 10 points. Freshman Aleksa Jugovic posted a team-best five assists.
JSU was led by Darion Rackley with 25 points, bolstered by his 12-for-15 performance at the free throw line. Malcolm Drumwright also reached double digits with 17 points for the Gamecocks. Jeremy Watson had 10 rebounds for JSU.
Tech nabbed 18 offensive rebounds, finishing the game with a 48-29 edge on the glass, and had a 17-4 advantage in second chance points.
Jacksonville State's only lead of the night came on the game's opening basket by Rackley, but Caldwell's jumper at the 15:36 mark put Tech on top with a lead the Golden Eagles carried all the way to the house.
Tech's inside duo of Caldwell and Jackson helped the Golden Eagles push their first half lead to double figures, 19-7, with 11:18 remaining in the period. Tech took the margin all the way up to 17 points on four separate occasions before heading to the break with a 38-22 advantage.
The difference reached 20 points with 7:18 to play on a free throw by Shirmane Thomas, Tech's biggest lead of the night.
The Gamecocks attempted a comeback, putting together a 10-3 stretch to pull within 13 points, but Tech got a dunk by Josiah Moore and then began a parade to the free throw.
Drumwright's 3-pointer and four points from Rackley got JSU with a dozen, 69-57, with 40 seconds left before Golden Eagle freshman Josh Bougher drained his first career 3-pointer to join the scoring parade.
Both teams had their struggles from long range. Tech was 3-for-18 (16.7 percent) while JSU managed just 2-for-12 (also 16.7 percent). They were nearly identical at the free throw line, with JSU going 23-for-34 and Tech hitting 23-for-33.
The margin came in the paint, where Tech owned a 36-26 advantage.
The Golden Eagles will host Tennessee State Thursday in an OVC doubleheader, with the women's game slated for 4:15 p.m. and the men's tipoff at 7 p.m. That night is Gold Rush, with fans encouraged to wear gold to the game and the first 1,500 fans into the arena will receive a free Gold Rush t-shirt.