By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – A spectacular first half wasn't enough for the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team to pull off an in-state victory Wednesday evening, as the Golden Eagles fell to Chattanooga in the Hooper Eblen Center, 81-74.
Both sides got off to torrid starts, particularly beyond the arc, but the Mocs cooled off as the opening half progressed, allowing the purple and gold to take advantage and build a double-digit lead at the break. Tech fired at a 55.2 percent clip from the floor, sinking a nearly flawless 7-of-9 attempts from distance for a 45-34 lead.
Tech won the first-half battle on the boards, 17-11, and received great production off the bench to the tune of 20 points. Local Sparta native Grant Slatten led the charge over the first 20 minutes, turning in 10 points.
In the second half, the tables turned. The Golden Eagles found their fair share of struggles getting the ball in the hoop, shooting just 31.4 percent from the field and sinking only one of the team's seven attempts from deep. On the flip side, Chattanooga couldn't miss, almost literally.
The Mocs converted 12 of their minuscule 15 attempts from the floor for an 80 percent clip. The visitors also sunk 7-of-9 tries from 3-point range. The purple and gold attempted a whopping 20 more shots than Chattanooga in the second half, but couldn't take advantage.
Chattanooga finished 16-of-20 from the charity stripe in the second half, contributing to its 47 points. Tech did manage to force 12 turnovers by the Mocs in the same span and held the visitors without an offensive board.
Four Golden Eagles produced in double figures, led by a trio of 13-point efforts. Graduate forward Jaylen Sebree piled up a career-high six steals on the night to go along with his 13 points and dished out four assists. Junior guards Brett Thompson and Jayvis Harvey each contributed 13 points as well.
Slatten finished his night with a career-high 12 points and chipped in three boards off the bench. Freshman Grant Strong turned in a team-high five rebounds and dished out three helpers to go along with four points.
Leading the contest in scoring was Chattanooga center Jake Stephens, recording a double-double with 27 points and 10 rebounds, as well as six dimes. The big man converted 10-of-12 attempts at the charity stripe.
The Golden Eagles hit the road for a weekend battle at Butler, making the trip north for a Saturday showdown at Hinkle Fieldhouse at 1:00 p.m. CT.
Photo by Jim Dillon