By Nate Perry, TTU Sports Information
CHARLESTON, S.C. – It wasn't always pretty for the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team on Saturday afternoon – especially in the first half – but terrific free throw shooting and a strong second-half defensive effort made the difference, as Tech moved to 4-1 on the season with a 77-55 victory over Charleston Southern.
Offensive struggles were the story for both teams in the first quarter, as the Golden Eagles and Buccaneers went a combined 9-of-41 from the field. Tech held its own, and managed an 18-18 tie with CSU thanks to a 12-for-13 effort from the free throw line (92.3 percent). The Golden Eagles' success from the charity stripe was a theme throughout the game as they finished 30-of-39 for the contest (76.9 percent).
Both clubs remained cold to start the second quarter, until Jordan Brock's emergence gave TTU some separation toward the end of the half. The Harlan Ky., native drilled back-to-back three-pointers near the three-minute mark that allowed the Golden Eagles to take a seven-point lead into the locker room.
The sophomore sniper buried two more triples in the second half on her way to a season-high 19 points that led all scorers in the game. In the process, she extended her season-opening streak of games with at least three made three-pointers (five games).
Despite its boost in momentum, Tech was unable to distance itself any further from CSU over the first six minutes of the third quarter. Finally, a pair of jump shots – one from Anacia Wilkinson and the other from Akia Harris – spawned a renewed effort on both ends of the court that would blow the game wide open.
What followed was a 15-4 Golden Eagle run – punctuated by a Brock three-pointer at the buzzer – that gave Tech an 18-point lead going into the final 10 minutes (58-40).
That spurt was all the separation the Golden Eagles would need to earn their victory, but managed to widen the gap even more in the fourth with many of their reserves on the floor, en route to the 77-55 final count.
The defense came to life in the second half as well, as Tech notched nine of its 10 steals on the game, and forced 15 CSU turnovers (20 total).
Three other double-digit performers joined Brock in the final box score, all of whom did the majority of their damage in the second half.
Kentoria Alexander scored a career-high 16 points on 4-of-9 shooting and 8-of-12 from the free-throw line, and also added a game-high four steals.
Kesha Brady had 16 points of her own, keyed by 9-of-10 from the free throw line. It was the second time Brady drained nine free throws in a game this season, and the third time in five games that she has scored at least 14 points.
Lacy Cantrell scored nine of her12 points in the second half, and pulled down 10 rebounds for the second double-double of her career.
Akia Harris finished with eight points and three assists, Taylor Lamb had four points, and Anacia Wilkinson scored two points to round out Tech's offensive production. Wilkinson also led all players with 11 rebounds, and was a dynamic defensive presence with four blocked shots.
Tech will go up against former national power Old Dominion on Sunday at 1 p.m. The Monarchs took a two-point overtime victory over Jacksonville in their Saturday matchup, 78-76.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information