By Jonathan Caudle, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Following the program's first conference loss of the season, Tennessee Tech women's basketball responded in a huge way on Saturday, earning an 88-47 victory over the Tennessee State Tigers inside the Hooper Eblen Center.
The Golden Eagles improve to 16-5 on the season and remain tied for first in the OVC with a 9-1 conference mark. The Tigers fall to 2-18 on the season and remain winless in OVC play at 0-10.
Four Golden Eagles posted double-digit performances in the contest. Junior Mackenzie Coleman, the Special Olympics Player of the Game, led the way with a game-high 18 points, shooting 56 percent (5-of-9) from the field, 50 percent (1-of-2) from 3-point range, and a team-leading 88 percent (7-of-8) from the line.
Joining Coleman in double-figures were freshman Maaliya Owens, in addition to juniors Megan Clark and Kesha Brady. Owens scored a career second-best 15 points, shooting 60 percent (6-of-10) from the floor, 50 percent (2-of-4) from 3-point range, and sinking her sole free throw.
Clark scored a career-high 12 points, netting 80 percent (4-of-5) from the floor and a perfect 100 percent (4-of-4) from long-range. Lastly, Brady finished the game with 11 points on 44 percent (4-of-9) from the field, 33 percent (1-of-3) from long-range, and a perfect 100 percent (2-of-2) from the free throw line.
Tech came out of the chute slowly in the opening period. The Tigers scored five unanswered to take their largest lead of the contest, but a Wilkinson jump shot and a 3-pointer from Harris quickly evened things up at five apiece. Coleman knocked down a free throw to give Tech the one-point advantage, but a pair of buckets from the Tigers put Tennessee State back up by three at the first-period media timeout. Following the timeout, the Golden Eagles produced a 9-4 run to retake the lead and close out the first with a two-point advantage, 15-13.
The Golden Eagles carried the momentum into the second period, outscoring the Tigers 14-4 to extend their lead to double-digits, 29-17, at the 4:36-minute mark of the quarter. The Purple and Gold continued to pour it on as they closed out the half on an 8-4 run to hold a comfortable 37-21 lead heading into the locker room.
After shooting 29 percent from the field and 25 percent from 3-point range in the opening 10 minutes, the Golden Eagles doubled their percentages to finish the opening half shooting 42 percent from the field and 3-point range at halftime. Tech also capitalized on its opportunities, scoring 15 of its 37 points from turnovers in the first half.
Tech continued to extend its lead in the third. Tennessee State kept the game within 15-points through the media timeout of the third, 47-32. Tech held the Tigers to only four more points over the final five minutes of the period to close out a 14-4 run and bring a 25-point lead into the final period of play.
The Golden Eagles rode their huge cushion over the remainder of the contest, playing reserves for most of the final period and seal the 41-point victory, 88-47.
The Golden Eagles outscored the Tigers 51-26 over the final 20 minutes of play. As a team, the Golden Eagles shot an impressive 58 percent from the field and 3-point range, and 67 percent from the free throw line. Tech controlled the glass, outrebounding TSU 20-12 over the second half.
The Golden Eagles bench also contributed 43 of the points in the contest, 35 of which came over the final two periods.
The Golden Eagles go back on the road next weekend as they travel to UT Martin to battle for first place in the OVC on Thursday, Feb. 6.
Photo by Thomas Corhern