By Jonathan Caudle, TTU Sports Information
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech women's basketball got back into the win column on Saturday as the Golden Eagles dominated the Tennessee State Lady Tigers 81-69 on the road inside the Gentry Center.
"I love how our players started the game," expressed head coach Kim Rosamond. "I loved their effort and focus tonight and thought our team really set the tone early."
The Golden Eagles improved to 17-8 on the season and 10-4 in OVC play, while the Tigers fall to 3-21 overall and 1-13 in league play.
Four Golden Eagles netted double-figure totals in the contest. Junior Kesha Brady led the way with 21 points, marking her sixth 20-plus point game of the season. She added three rebounds and a pair of steals. Senior Akia Harris tallied her first double-double of the season with 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, narrowly missing a triple-double with a game-high eight assists. Harris shot 3-of-7 from the floor and knocked down a season-high 9-of-10 from the line.
"Kesha Brady hit some big shots early that really got us going," said Rosamond. "She was locked in on both ends of the floor. Akia Harris was two assists shy of a triple-double. 15 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists is a heck of a night from your senior point guard. Our post-tandem of Mackenzie and Naci also played well. Overall, we had a lot of contributions all the way across the board from everyone who touched the floor."
The Golden Eagles never trailed in the contest. The first period opened with four unanswered Tech points to put the Golden Eagles up early. Tennessee State cut the deficit back to one, 5-4, but Tech responded with a 12-2 run to give Tech its first double-digit lead of the contest, 17-6. Tennessee State produced an 8-5 run to close out the period and cut the deficit to eight after the opening quarter, 22-14
Tech regained the momentum to open the second quarter, outscoring the Lady Tigers 7-2 through the 6:26 mark to kick its lead back out to 13, 29-16. The Golden Eagles maintained the advantage through the 2:54-minute mark to hold a 39-27 lead. However, Tennessee State went on a 9-4 run over the final three minutes of the half to send things into the locker room with Tech up by nine, 43-34.
The two teams battled back-and-forth through the early parts of the third period. The Golden Eagles outscored Tennessee State 8-7 through the first five minutes of play to hold a 51-41 lead at the third-period media timeout. The Golden Eagles dominated the final five minutes of play. Tech mounted a 12-1 run through the 2:05 mark to extend the lead to its largest of the contest, 63-42. The Tigers scored four unanswered to close the third and cut the deficit to 17, 63-46, heading into the final 10 minutes of play.
Tech held on to a 19-point advantage through the 8:52 mark of the fourth, leading Tennessee State 66-47. The Lady Tigers produced eight unanswered points over the following minute of clock to cut the Golden Eagles lead to 11 with 7:54 to play. Tech responded with a 6-2 run to bring the lead back out to 15 at the 6:03 mark, 72-57. Tennessee State outscored the Golden Eagles, 12-9, over the final six minutes of play, but it was too little too late as the Golden Eagles would secure the 81-69 victory.
The Golden Eagles dominated the glass in the contest, outrebounding the Lady Tigers 39-22, including an 11-5 mark on the offensive boards leading to an 18-7 Tech advantage in second-chance points. Tech also outshot Tennessee State from beyond the arc, scoring five more 3-point field goals than the Lady Tigers.
"We needed to get off to a good start after coming off a difficult three-game stretch," said Rosamond. "We are a team that had won 16 basketball games, including a streak of 11-straight victories, coming into tonight and I think we forgot that. We are a good basketball team. We hit the reset button yesterday and got back to basics. We are at our best when we share the basketball, defend, rebound, and most of all play for each other. We got back to that tonight."
Tech returns home next week as it hosts OVC-leader UT Martin for a 5:30 p.m. tip inside the Hooper Eblen Center.
Photo by Thomas Corhern