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Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles

Tech drops defensive struggle at Evansville

Tech drops defensive struggle at Evansville

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – A defensive struggle between the Tennessee Tech and Evansville basketball teams went in favor of the home squad Saturday afternoon, as the Purple Aces bested the Golden Eagles at the Ford Center, 59-51.

Neither side led the contest by more than eight at any point during the day, with Evansville taking the largest advantage of the game with 5:32 left to play at 46-38. Both sides traded blows over the next three minutes, but the purple and gold finally looked to break through as the clock began to wind down.

Trailing by seven with 2:14 on the clock, returning junior guard Jr. Clay cut into the paint and dropped in a floater to trim the deficit to five. Evansville was called for flopping for the second time in the contest, resulting in a technical free throw for Tech.

Returning sophomore guard Keishawn Davidson calmly converted the try to make it a four-point game. Playing tenacious defense on the ensuing inbounds play, the Golden Eagles forced a turnover by the Purple Aces and took advantage of the new possession.

Clay found Davidson open from deep, and the Murfreesboro, Tenn. native buried the triple, bringing Tech to within a point. Evansville hit a dagger on the following turn with the ball, answering a make from downtown that propelled the home squad back to a four-point lead.

"It was a hard-fought battle in both halves," Tech head coach John Pelphrey said. "Once again, we put ourselves in the position to compete for a win under four minutes. We made some big plays there to cut the lead to the one, both defensively and offensively. We had a little bit of a breakdown there with our rotations and gave up a three. We just need a little more leadership, a little more fundamentals, and maybe two more stops in each half."

Both sides struggle to convert throughout the contest, with Tech being held to 37.0 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from 3-point range on the day. Evansville converted slightly better, shooting 42.3 percent from the field, but just 27.6 percent from distance. The Golden Eagles made 15 turnovers while the Purple Aces turned in 11.

"Once again, I thought offensively we moved the ball and got to some good places," Pelphrey explained. "We just weren't able to finish, so we'll have to look at that a little bit. We need to have a little more concentration, especially being around the basket."

Clay led the purple and gold with 15 points and three assists in the contest. Graduate transfer John Pettway added 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting off the bench. Amadou Sylla hauled in a game-high nine rebounds while Diante Wood and Shandon Goldman each chipped in seven boards.  

"We're going to keep at it and stick with the process," Pelphrey expressed "This is part of building a program and building a team. This has been a tough schedule and we were able to come on the road, in a tough spot, and give ourselves a chance."

Tech will head to Cullowhee, N.C. on Wednesday, Dec. 8 for a road tilt with Western Carolina for its next match-up. The two squads will tip at 6:00 p.m. CT.

Season tickets for Tennessee Tech basketball are on sale now. Call (931) 372-3940, visit the Hooper Eblen Center ticket office, or log on to TTUSports.com to order yours today.

File photo by Jim Dillon

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