By Mike Lehman, TTU Sport Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – It was another tough battle down to the wire for the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team Saturday afternoon, as the Golden Eagles saw their last-second, half-court heave fall short at tying the game in a 75-72 loss to Troy in the Hooper Eblen Center.
A back-and-forth war for most of the night, the first-ever meeting between Tech and Troy saw a whopping 21 lead changes and 11 ties. Notched at 62 with just under six minutes to play, the Trojans used a 9-1 run over the next four minutes to take an eight-point lead.
The Golden Eagles fought back, using their own 9-2 run to cut the deficit to just a single point after a put-back layup from Shandon Goldman with 2.7 seconds to play. After a pair of Troy free throws, the purple and gold got a look at a buzzer-beating heave to tie the game, but the attempt fell short.
"I thought the guys really showed up once again and battled and competed," Pelphrey said. "I love watching this team play. I love being around these guys and get great energy from it. They're warrior-like in their approach. We've played a very challenging schedule and they back down from no one. They've always shown up and physically competed."
The Golden Eagles showed several signs of positivity on the night, forcing 18 turnovers and shooting better from the field in the second half and game overall.
"I think we're starting to play better basketball with the way we operate both offensively and defensively," Pelphrey explained. "I think there is an element of skill development and player development where we need to continued to develop offensively, to finish some plays and to be able to knock down some shots. That's normal for any team. That's normal for any player. We'll continue to put in our time and work in there."
Returning sophomore guard Keishawn Davidson produced a spectacular showing, dropping a game-high 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting and a 5-for-5 performance at the charity stripe. He added four assists with no turnovers. Graduate transfer John Pettway chipped in a season-high 17 points on 8-for-9 efficiency, adding a team-high eight rebounds and season-high four steals.
Jr. Clay joined the pair of guards in double figures, scoring 10 points with five assists. Diante Wood also dished out five helpers, tying his career-high mark. Shandon Goldman collected eight points and five rebounds while Daniel Ramsey finished the day with seven points and five boards.
"I think one of the big things our team has to learn is that college basketball is one of the most competitive environments you'll ever be in," Pelphrey expressed. "Every possession has a life and history of its own. It deserves your greatest focus, it deserves your best rep, because anything less than that, you'll probably get dominated instead of you being a dominant player."
Each of the nine Golden Eagles to see the floor scored at least two points and hauled in at least two rebounds in the game.
Tech will remain in the Hooper Eblen Center for a Thursday contest on Dec. 16, playing host to Montreat College at 3:00 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.
Photo by Jim Dillon