By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – A rough stretch to end the opening half proved too much for the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team to overcome Monday evening, as the Golden Eagles (5-16, 2-6) fell to a red-hot Morehead State squad (17-6, 9-1) in the Hooper Eblen Center, 70-56.
A tight affair early on in the contest, the purple and gold took as large as a five-point lead and owned the lead with 9:31 to go in the first half thanks to a Jr. Clay triple. The visiting Eagles took complete control from that point on, ending the opening stanza on a 24-2 run and entering the locker room with a 42-21 lead.
"It was a tough first half for us," Tech head coach John Pelphrey explained. "We actually played pretty well for eight or nine minutes. I think we were up 19-18 at one point in time. They obviously picked their defense up a little bit and I thought our decision-making was a little bit bad there. We tried to just force the basketball some and they ended the first half scoring 20 points off our turnovers. I think we had 11 turnovers in the first half and that was just too much of a hole to get ourselves out of."
For all the struggles experienced by the Golden Eagles in the first half, their effort was spectacular in over the final 20 minutes of play, outscoring Morehead 35-28. Tech also outworked the Eagles on the glass with a 28-20 advantage, including 12 boards on the offensive glass.
"The second half, our guys kept battling, fighting, and competing," Pelphrey expressed. "This guy sitting beside me [Amadou Sylla] was unreal with his effort and his willingness to compete. He showed how much he loves to play. It could have easily gone the other way and he wouldn't let it. I'm very proud of him and the other guys for their fight, but we need to sustain play."
Sylla tied for the team lead in rebounding, hauling in eight in the contest, including an impressive seven on the offensive boards alone. He added six points, two assists, a steal, and a block to the mix.
Keishawn Davidson paced the Golden Eagle scoring, hitting 5-of-8 tries from the floor on his way to 11 points, seven rebounds, and three dimes. Clay accounted for nine points and three assists while Daniel Ramsey chipped in nine points and four rebounds.
"Hopefully we can regroup, gather ourselves, and refocus because we get another opportunity to go up and play them on Thursday," Pelphrey said. "I'm still excited about these young men. I feel very strongly about their heart and competitive nature. I think their best basketball is still in front of them this season. I really do."
Tech will take on Morehead State in a rematch between the two programs Thursday evening, making the trip north to Kentucky for a 6:00 p.m. CT match-up. The tilt will represent the second game of a doubleheader with the Golden Eagle and Morehead women's teams, which tips at 4:00 p.m.
Photo by Jim Dillon