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Second-half surge propels Golden Eagles over Tigers for fourth straight win

Second-half surge propels Golden Eagles over Tigers for fourth straight win

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – For the second game in a row, grit and determination helped the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team overcome a slow start offensively, as the Golden Eagles took down in-state and Ohio Valley Conference rival Tennessee State in the Hooper Eblen Center Saturday evening, 71-63.

It marked the fourth straight win for the purple and gold, Tech's first four-game winning streak in OVC play since the 2015-16 campaign. The victory also represented the first for the Golden Eagles in the last four meetings with the Tigers.

Tech (8-11, 4-2) struggled to find its footing on the offensive end early in the ball game, missing its first seven shots and trailing 10-4 a full six-and-a-half minutes in. After the home squad squared the contest at 10-10, Tennessee State (10-9, 2-4) delivered its longest run of the night to pull ahead 20-10, its largest lead of the contest.

Never deterred, the Golden Eagles scrapped their way to within a pair at the break, riding a surge from graduate guard Ty Perry. The Apopka, Fla. native scored the team's final 11 points of the half, sinking three triples in a row and finishing with a nifty finish in the paint to close the opening stanza.

The Tigers grew their advantage back out to as much as nine at 48-39 with 13:55 to play, as former, four-year Golden Eagle and TSU graduate guard Jr. Clay buried a step-back jumper from beyond the arc. Following a media timeout, Tech went back to work.

The Tech defense dug in and the offense made its possessions count down the stretch, holding Tennessee State scoreless for more than five minutes and using a 23-5 run to flip the script and take its own nine-point advantage with just over three minutes on the clock. The visitors tried to crawl back into the game by sending the Golden Eagles to the foul line, but Tech made the most of its opportunities, converting 9-of-12 over the final three minutes.

On the night, the Golden Eagles forced 18 turnovers by the Tigers while making just nine of their own. Tech also shot 73.9 percent from the charity stripe, sinking 17-of-23 attempts at the line while TSU made just 8-of-14 tries.

Perry paced a group effort for the purple and gold that saw four players in double figures, producing a team-high 15 points on 5-for-10 shooting. He added four rebounds and team-highs of three assists and three steals to the mix.

Junior guard Jayvis Harvey racked up 14 points and four boards while Jaylen Sebree accounted for 11 points and a team-high six rebounds. Rounding out the double-figure scoring for the Golden Eagles was junior guard Brett Thompson, chipping in 10 points, four rebounds, and three dimes off the bench.

Clay led the TSU effort, scoring a game-high 22 points with seven rebounds. Center Adong Makuoi turned in a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds while Zion Griffin added 14 points and six boards.

The Golden Eagles will look to continue their winning ways with their first-ever trip to new league foe Little Rock next Thursday. Tip is slated for a 7:30 p.m. CT start. Tech will follow it up with a visit to Cape Girardeau, Mo. and a 4:00 p.m. match-up at Southeast Missouri on Saturday.

Photo by Jim Dillon

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