By Nate Perry, TTU Sports Information
CHARLESTON, S.C. – Off to its best start in eight years, the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team takes its talents to the coast of the Atlantic Ocean for the Buccaneer Classic hosted by Charleston Southern, the program's first Thanksgiving weekend tournament action since 2013-14.
Tech will face off with the host CSU at 1 p.m. on Saturday, and follow up with an intriguing matchup against Old Dominion on Sunday at 1.
The Golden Eagles have turned in some impressive statistical marks in building their 3-1 start.
The offense currently features four double-digit scorers in Jordan Brock (13.0 points per game), Lacy Cantrell (12.8), Akia Harris (10.3) and Kesha Brady (10.0), and at 73.3 points per contest as a team, TTU is more than 13 points better than its per-game output in 2017-18 (60.2).
The key so far has been offensive efficiency, as Tech leads the Ohio Valley Conference in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.4 (68 assists, 50 turnovers.) The team assists mark is good enough for third in the conference, and their team three-point field goal percentage, a healthy .348, is also third-best. The ball club is fourth in overall field-goal percentage at .438.
While the defense is still working out some early-season kinks, it has done a good job in the painted area and on the perimeter, as coach Kim Rosamond's squad is third in the OVC in blocked shots with 3.8 per game, and fourth in the league in three-point field-goal percentage, allowing just a .246 mark to its opponents.
Anacia Wilkinson has led the way in paint protection, having already collected 10 blocked shots on the season, a mark that is tied for 25th nationally.
Here's a look at the two opponents that make up Tech's weekend slate:
CHARLESTON SOUTHERN PROFILE
Charleston Southern will be Tech's first-ever opponent from the Big South Conference, where it has compiled a 32-82 record in Fred Applin's six seasons.
While the Buccaneers struggled in conference play during Applin's first few seasons, they did turn in an 8-12 league campaign in 2015-16 and a high-water mark of 11-7 in 2016-17. The Bucs won a total of 18 games in 2016-17, which was its most since the 1998-99 season.
The 2017-18 season saw CSU post an 11-20 overall record and a 5-13 mark in the Big South, which put them in a tie for eighth place.
The Bucs are 1-2 on the season, with a season-opening win over Converse (S.C.) College (101-50), and losses to Davidson (72-34) and South Carolina State (67-58).
Senior guard Ke'Asia Jackson currently leads Applin's squad in scoring at 19.0 points per game, but has only participated in two of the Bucs' three contests. Fellow senior Rachel Burns is the next-most productive Buccaneer at 9.0 ppg, followed by junior center Jasmine Blackmon at 8.7.
OLD DOMINION PROFILE
Old Dominion competes in Conference USA, and has been a member since the 2013-14 season. While the Monarchs have never won a C-USA title, they won 17 championships in a row as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association from 1991-92 to 2007-08. They won an addition five titles as a member of the Sun Belt, and won an NCAA national championship in 1985.
Old Dominion is one of the blue-blood programs in women's college basketball, as it sits eighth overall in all-time wins with 1,042. Tennessee Tech is not far behind with 927.
Coach Nikki McCray-Penson appears to have the program trending in the right direction in her second year, as the Monarchs are already off to a 3-1 start in 2018-19, which contrasts its 8-23 campaign in 2017-18.
ODU's three wins came at Campbell (83-59), vs. Norfolk State (69-53) and at Cincinnati in overtime (76-72). It's lone loss came in a close one with Virginia this past Sunday, 73-67.
Three double-digit scorers - Ajah Wayne (18.3 ppg), Victoria Morris (16.8 ppg) and Taylor Edwards (11.8 ppg) currently lead the offensive charge for ODU. The Monarchs are averaging 73.8 points per game so far this year, which is a massive uptick from their 54.6 ppg in 2017-18.
Wayne, a 5-10 freshman from Birmingham, Ala., who is listed as both a guard and a forward, also leads the rebounding effort with 9.0 per game. She scored over 2,000 points, won two state championships and was named the 6A Player of the Year for the state of Alabama in 2017.
Morris, a sophomore guard from Cincinnati, made the C-USA All-Freshman Team a season ago, and was the first freshman to lead the Monarchs in scoring (11.0 ppg) in 27 years.
Edwards, a junior guard, averaged 7.6 points per contest as a sophomore and led the team in rebounding with 6.0 per game.
Junior forward Maggie Robinson, a transfer from Shelton State Community College in is also a big-time contributor in the rebounding department in 2018-19 with 7.5 rpg.
OLD DOMINION SERIES NOTES
Tech and Old Dominion have squared off three times historically, with the most recent matchup coming in the first round of the 1999 NCAA Tournament. The Monarchs prevailed in that game, 74-48.
That decision broke a 1-1 tie in the overall series. Tech won the first meeting, 65-61, on February 17, 1978, before Old Dominion evened it with a 77-60 victory on March 18, 1993, which was also an opening round NCAA Tournament matchup.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information