By Nate Perry, TTU Sports Information
BUIES CREEK, N.C. – One of just two Ohio Valley Conference teams still playing basketball, Tennessee Tech rolls into its Women's Basketball Invitational quarterfinal matchup with Campbell looking to build on its convincing opening-round victory over Akron.
The first-ever battle between the Tennessee Tech and Campbell women's programs will be waged Monday night at 6 p.m. CT from CU's Gore Arena in Buies Creek, N.C.
At stake is a berth in the semifinals, which will be played on Friday and Saturday, March 29-30.
Live Stats/Broadcast Information
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(Dylan Vazzano, play-by-play)
For a season that has already carved out its own space in TTU lore, a win over Campbell would present the 2018-19 team with a couple more accomplishments that have not been seen in the program in quite some time.
A victory would be Tech's 23rd of the season, which would match the 2005-06 and 2010-11 teams for the highest total since a 24-win campaign in 2000-01.
It would also mark the first time Tech has won two national postseason games in the same season since 1977-78, and the first time in the modern format for postseason tournaments (NCAA, Women's National Invitational Tournament, WBI).
The previous occurrence came in the 1978 Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women Tournament, the governing body for collegiate women's basketball prior to the NCAA taking over in 1981-82.
The Golden Eagles carry plenty of momentum into their date with the Fighting Camels after utilizing their deep, talented bench and an inspired rebounding effort to dispatch Akron.
Dynamic non-starters Anacia Wilkinson and Kesha Brady were the team's top two scorers with 19 points and 18 points, respectively, and accounted for almost the entirety of Tech's 39-12 bench scoring advantage over UA.
Brady has now scored in double figures in nine of her last 13 games, and is averaging 12 points per tilt in that span.
The Smyrna native was a thorn in Akron's side defensively too; as she helped kick start Tech's transition offense with a career-high four steals.
TTU also racked up 47 rebounds, which matched its second-highest total of the year, and compiled a monstrous plus-23 rebounding margin over the Zips, its most dominant this season by far. Wilkinson was the leader in that department as well, snaring 11 boards for her third double-double of the season, while Kentoria Alexander was a factor as well with eight.
Along with her octet of rebounds, Alexander led the Golden Eagle starters with 15 points, and dished out six assists.
Akia Harris provided even more offensive balance in multiple ways, contributing 12 points, and matching a season-high with nine assists.
Behind Harris and Alexander, who each have more than 130 assists for the year, Tech racked up 19 of them against Akron, its highest number since recording 22 against Eastern Kentucky on Feb. 21.
Campbell has built a 22-12 record in 2018-19 after a 15-15 campaign a season ago.
With a ledger of 10-8, the Fighting Camels finished fifth in the Big South Conference, and thanks to a terrific run of three wins in their league tournament, came within 12 points of a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Tech is 2-0 this season against teams from the Big South, notching wins at Charleston Southern on Nov. 24, and against UNC Asheville on Dec. 18.
To get to Monday's quarterfinal, Campbell edged Coastal Carolina on Coastal's home floor, 58-54, behind 17 points from junior guard Hayley Barber and 14 from freshman guard Shy Tuelle.
Tuelle leads the Camels in scoring for the season at 9.0 points per game, followed by four other players who contribute at least six. Tuelle is a serious threat from 3-point range as well with a season rate of 36.1 percent (57-of-158). Caroline Bowns makes her fair share from beyond the arc as well, connecting on 35.1 percent for the year (54-of-154). Those percentages rank third and seventh, respectively, in the league.
Redshirt sophomore forward Taya Bolden is the team's leading rebounder, clipping at 8.5 per game, which is third-best in the BSC.
While Barber leads the team in assists with 2.7 per game, the stats show there are several Camels who can effectively find the open teammate, as three others – Luana Serranho, Bowns and Tuelle – have at least 49 helpers.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information