By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
RICHMOND, Ky. – Inconsistency was the name of the game Thursday evening, as the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team struggled to find its niche in its Ohio Valley Conference opener at Eastern Kentucky. The Colonels (4-10, 1-0) defeated the Golden Eagles (3-11, 0-1) in Richmond, Ky., 74-59.
A first-half barrage from downtown and relentless full-court press in the opening five minutes put the Golden Eagles in a hole early as the Colonels kicked off the contest on a 9-0 run. That start saw EKU convert four Tech turnovers into four field goals before the purple and gold got on the scoreboard.
Senior guard Darius Allen helped keep his young squad in the fight early, scoring a team-high 11 first-half points. He hit back-to-back triples in the corner, forcing an EKU timeout with just over seven minutes to play in the opening stanza.
Following the timeout, the Colonels took advantage of a cold stretch by the Tech offense with a 14-0 run over nearly five minutes to build its advantage to as much as 23 points. At the break, EKU led it 49-30 behind 56 percent shooting from the floor and an 8-for-16 showing from downtown.
In the beginning of the second half, Tech looked like a different team, switching defensive plans and being noticeably more physical on the boards. The changes paid early dividends, allowing the Golden Eagles to chip away at the deficit.
With just over nine minutes to go, that EKU lead had shrunk to 10 points. The home team had an answer prepared, however, scoring six straight to push the advantage back out enough to prove too much to overcome in the end.
Over the final 20 minutes, Tech dominated the glass, actually hauling in more offensive boards than Eastern Kentucky's total. The Golden Eagles snagged 25 to EKU's 11, including 12 on the offensive side. The purple and gold also outscored the Colonels in the second half, 29-25.
Allen led all scorers in the contest with 16 points and added five boards. Jr. Clay joined his fellow guard in double figures, producing 11 points while tying for the team lead with eight rebounds.
Freshman forward Tujautae Williams also corralled eight boards and scored six points. Hunter Vick hit a trio of triples for nine points off the bench while rookie Keishawn Davidson paced the squad with five assists to go along with four rebounds and four points.
The Golden Eagles will play the second half of its "Death Valley" road swing Saturday afternoon with a 2:00 p.m. CT tilt at Morehead State.
Photo by Thomas Corhern