Tech women’s basketball looks to get back on track, hosts Eastern Kentucky Thursday night

Tech women’s basketball looks to get back on track, hosts Eastern Kentucky Thursday night

By Nate Perry, TTU Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Every season has bumps in the road. The Tennessee Tech women's basketball team experienced one of those bumps Saturday night against Belmont, and must now pick themselves up and initiate a positive response against Eastern Kentucky. The Golden Eagles will be looking for their third sweep of an Ohio Valley Conference opponent this season when they square off with the Colonels at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Eblen Center.

TWO GAMES, TWO WINS

A win over Eastern Kentucky would complete Tech's third sweep of a league opponent this year, adding to a list that includes Jacksonville State and Tennessee State.

Prior to this season, Tech's last sweep of an OVC program came against TSU in 2016-17, with the Golden Eagles recording a 64-59 win at home on Jan. 18, 2017, and a 72-59 road victory on Feb. 8.

The last time Tennessee Tech swept three conference teams in the same season was 2012-13, when coach Jim Davis' Tech squad swept four OVC foes: Belmont, Jacksonville State, Morehead State and Tennessee State.

FIRST FILLERS

Belmont was the first team to shoot better than 50 percent from the field against Tech this season. Prior to the BU game, TTU was surrendering an average opponent field goal percentage of .386, which ranked fourth in the OVC.

FIRING FROM THREE

Tech made 13 3-pointers against Belmont, which tied the team's second-highest single-game output this year. The total included a career-high five threes from Kentoria Alexander, and a 3-of-5 mark from Abby Buckner, who is making 41.4 percent of her triples during the conference season (24-of-58). That rate is seventh-best in the league.

BACK TO EVEN

A win over EKU would move Kim Rosamond back to a .500 record all-time (3-3) against the Colonels, and would give her a ledger of .500 or better against six of the 11 conference opponents.

AN UNSELFISH UNIT

Highlighted by 19 assists against UT Martin and 17 Saturday vs. Belmont, Tech is averaging 13.8 helpers over its last six games.

EASTERN KENTUCKY PROFILE

Eastern Kentucky is one of the five original members that remain in the Ohio Valley Conference, and has compiled a 318-314 record since the first season of women's basketball, 1977-78.

EKU won its first OVC regular-season title in 1995, and then followed with four more in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2005. The Colonels have also won the league tournament two times, once in '97 and again in '05.

Coach Chrissy Roberts' team has struggled in 2018-19, posting a 2-23 record with an 0-14 mark in the conference. The Colonels have not posted a win over a Division I opponent this year.

Abby Wright leads the offense at 11.6 points per game. Wright had missed the team's last 11 tilts prior to making her return at Morehead State on Feb. 16. Shay Solomon and Bria Bass carried the offensive load in Wright's absence, and average 10.6 and 10.1 points per game for the season, respectively.

Solomon and Bass are also the team leaders in rebounding with 6.4 and 6.2 per game, which both rank inside the top 10 in the OVC.

Solomon paces her club in assists with 3.5 per game, followed by Teri Goodlett with 2.8. Those marks rank 10th and 15th in the conference, respectively.

Goodlett has also recorded the most steals for EKU with 26, while Bass and Catie Kaifes are the only two players on the team with more than 30 made 3-pointers.

SERIES NOTES

Tech and Eastern Kentucky have met 95 times since the 1973-74 season, with the Golden Eagles holding a commanding 67-28 advantage in the series.

Former Tech coach Marynell Meadors won 24 of her 25 dates with Eastern Kentucky before departing at the end of the 1985-86 campaign. The lone loss came in Richmond by two points, 80-78, on December 10, 1981. 

Bill Worrell continued the trend to start his tenure, prevailing in eight of his first nine tries, before EKU recorded back-to-back wins for the first time in the early 1990s. Worrell's teams would respond with victories in eight of the next 10 renewals, giving the Tech program a 40-6 series ledger stretching into the 1995-96 season.

Eastern Kentucky would get the best of TTU in six of the next eight, before Tech won five more consecutively from 1999 to 2001.

The series has evened out significantly since then, with Tech winning 19 of the last 35 matchups to EKU's 16.

Kim Rosamond has a 2-3 record against EKU, winning her first matchup, 53-51, on Jan. 28, 2017. Led by 14 points from Yaktavia Hickson and 13 from Hannah Goolsby, Tech held off EKU's late rally to edge the Colonels in Cookeville.

The second matchup of the 2017-18 season was also a tight one, as EKU pulled out a two-point victory in Richmond on Jan. 18. After a Jordan Brock 3-pointer tied the game at 53 with five seconds left, Eastern Kentucky's A'Queen Hayes knocked down the game-winning jump shot as time expired.

Tech squared off with EKU at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky. in the teams' first meeting this year. The Golden Eagles won, 81-68, behind five double-digit scorers, including co-leaders Jordan Brock and Akia Harris with 14 points apiece.

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Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information