By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – What looked like a barn burner in the opening minutes turned into a defensive grind as the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team dropped its Ohio Valley Conference opening tilt at SIUE Thursday evening, 64-51, at First Community Arena in Edwardsville, Ill.
Just four minutes into the contest, Tech (4-10, 0-1) led the Cougars (10-4, 1-0), 9-8, behind a 3-for-4 start from the field. The home squad was shooting north of 60 percent at the first media break, but both sides never got close to that consistency the rest of the way.
SIUE used a red-hot touch from beyond the arc to pull away from the purple and gold in the opening stanza, building as much as a 13-point lead thanks to 7-for-15 efficiency from downtown. Tech trimmed the deficit to 10 at the break, 36-26.
The Golden Eagles came out of the locker room with a chip on their shoulder, scoring the first eight points of the second half to cut the Cougar lead to just two. The home squad responded with a 9-0 run of its own, however, pushing back in front by double figures before the scoring screeched to a crawl for both sides as the defenses picked up.
Relentless effort by the Cookeville crew kept the game in reach up until just over five minutes to play. From that point on, the Golden Eagles were held to just four more points, including a scoreless stretch of more than four-and-a-half minutes.
Tech struggled to convert around the rim, despite numerous good looks from both inside the paint and out. SIUE also used a plus-five margin on the offensive glass to put up 10 more shots in the contest.
After missing the final non-conference tilt on Dec. 20, junior guard Jayvis Harvey returned to score a team-high 14 points and tie for the team lead with five rebounds. Graduate forward Jaylen Sebree also snagged five boards to go along with 11 points and three assists.
Joining the double-digit scoring group for Tech, graduate guard Ty Perry chipped in 12 points.
Shamar Wright led the Cougars with 18 points, five dimes, three steals, and four blocks. Ray'Sean Taylor added 14 points and eight rebounds while DeeJuan Pruitt narrowly missed a double-double with 13 points and nine boards.
The Golden Eagles continue league play on the road Saturday afternoon, squaring off with first-time opponent Lindenwood in a 3:30 p.m. CT affair in St. Charles, Mo. The contest will follow the Tech women's game with the Lions at 1:00 p.m.
File photo by Thomas Corhern