By Layne Weitzel, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech's 2017-18 season came to a close in the Hooper Eblen Center on Saturday night, as the Golden Eagles fell to Jacksonville State by a score of 73-59.
Tech and Jacksonville State ended up splitting the season series. The Golden Eagles took the earlier meeting at JSU by a score of 60-58.
Tonight was a game full of emotion, both due to Tech playing its final game until November and the team sending off senior leaders Asia Harper and Yaktavia "Shug" Hickson. The pair totaled 33 wins and made an OVC Tournament appearance during their time as Golden Eagles.
Statistically, Hickson departs Tech as the program's 18th-leading scorer, totaling 1,256 points over four seasons.
Overall, Jacksonville State (18-11, 12-6 OVC) simply found more scoring opportunities than Tech, totaling 56 field goal attempts to Tech's 41. The Gamecocks also made seven more field goals than the Golden Eagles (24 to Tech's 17), although Tech was better from 3-point range at 35.7 percent to JSU's 30.0.
Hickson closed out her career at Tech with 11 points and six rebounds, and also was perfect from the charity stripe with six free throws. Fellow senior Harper added two rebounds.
In her last game as a freshman, Jordan Brock led the Golden Eagles with 15 points. Tech also saw Akia Harris (12 points) and MacKenzie Coleman (10 points) score in double-figures. Harris was named the First National Bank of Tennessee-Special Olympics Player of the Game, hitting all five of her free-throw tries and adding three rebounds.
Coleman finished just one block shy of tying Tech's freshman record of 52 blocks, which has been held by Hall of Fame inductee Melinda Clayton Hatfield since the 1986-87 season. She closes her debut season ranked fourth in the conference with an average of 1.7 blocks per game.
Kentoria Alexander also enjoyed a great night on the boards, leading all players with a season-high 10 rebounds and helping Tech out-rebound JSU 33-28. She passed her previous best of seven in the first half alone.
"Obviously not the finish that we wanted," said head coach Kim Rosamond. "We had a really tough start to the game and dug ourselves a hole early. We gave them a little bit of a scare in the fourth quarter, but we just weren't able to make enough plays and enough stops."
"I hate to say goodbye to these two (Harper and Hickson) – and it's not goodbye – but I hate to know that the next time we step in that locker room as a team, they won't be there with us. I just can't say enough about these two young women and how much I love them, how proud I am of them, and how much they have helped us change this culture and get us on a trek to win championships. They'll be a big part of that when they do. We talk all the time about leaving things better than you found it, and I don't think there's any question that these two have left it better than they found it."