By Jonathan Caudle, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, TENN. – Senior Anacia Wilkinson's career-night was Saturday's highlight as Tennessee Tech women's basketball fell in a hard-fought 72-59 loss against the Southeast Missouri Redhawks on Play4Kay and Senior Day inside the Hooper Eblen Center.
Wilkinson closed out the final home game of her career in the most perfect way possible, becoming Tennessee Tech women's basketball's career-leader in blocked shots. Fellow senior Akia Harris also tied for No. 6 all-time at Tech in assists, dishing out three dimes in the contest.
Junior Mackenzie Coleman and Wilkinson led the Golden Eagles on the offensive end, tallying 16 points and 14 points, respectively. Wilkinson added seven blocks and pulling down five rebounds. Junior Abby Buckner and freshman Jada Guinn grabbed a game-high eight rebounds apiece in the contest.
The Golden Eagles came out slow, falling behind early after Southeast Missouri opened the contest with an 8-0 run to take the 8-0 lead halfway through the first quarter. Tech rallied to outscore the Redhawks 9-7 to cut the deficit to six after the opening period, 15-8.
Coleman opened the second with huge 3-pointer to bring the Golden Eagles within three, 15-12, but a pair of Redhawk field goals kicked SEMO's lead back out to seven at the 7:17 mark. A pair of free throws from Jordan Brock kept the game within six, 23-17, at the halfway point fo the second. However, the Redhawks produced a 15-1 run over the final five minutes of the half to 20-point lead into the locker room, 38-18.
Tech struggled offensively, shooting 16 percent (4-of-25) from the field and 22 percent (2-of-9) from long-range. The Golden Eagles also struggled to keep the Redhawks off the glass, losing the battle 24-17 over the first 20 minutes of play.
The Redhawks maintained the momentum into the third, opening the period on a 10-2 run to extend their lead to 28 with 7:48 remaining in the third. Trailing 48-28, the Golden Eagles came out of the timeout with a mission, scoring 13 unanswered points to bring the game back within 15 with a little less than four minutes remaining in the third, 48-33. Southeast Missouri closed out the quarter on a 9-4 run to bring the deficit back out to 20, 57-37, heading into the final 10 minutes of play.
Tech regained the momentum to open the fourth, going on a 7-2 run to get back within 15, 59-44, with 7:16 to play. The two teams battled back-and-forth through a 71-51 SEMO lead with 1:30 to play. The Golden Eagles closed out the contest on an 8-1 run to bring the contest to its final, 72-59
Tech turned things around both offensively and defensively in the second half. The Golden Eagles shot 50 percent from the field during the second half, finishing the game making 35 percent (19-of-55) of their shots in the contest. The Golden Eagles also outrebounded the Redhawks 18-16 during the second half to finish only five boards behind the OVC rebounding leader, 40-35.
The Golden Eagles close out the regular season next week, first making a trip to Music City to take on the Belmont Bruins on Thursday, February 27 inside the Curb Event Center. Tipoff is slated for 5 p.m.
Photo by Thomas Corhern