By Jonathan Caudle, TTU Sports Information
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech women's basketball team fell short in the final quarter to drop a 68-52 decision against the Belmont Bruins on Thursday inside the Curb Event Center.
The Golden Eagles fell to 17-11 on the season and 10-7 in OVC play, while the Bruins improved to 20-8 overall and 15-2 in conference play.
"The final score is not indicative of our team's fight and heart tonight," expressed head coach Kim Rosamond. "We battled with Belmont until the last five minutes of this game. We just couldn't get shots to go down in the fourth quarter. Hard to win a close game on the road against a really good opponent going four for 18 and shooting 22 percent. Belmont made big shots and big plays down the stretch and we didn't. Even with the end result, there were a lot of positives in this game that we need to take and build on."
Junior Mackenzie Coleman netted a team-high 18 points, shooting 78 percent (7-of-9) from the field, a perfect 100 percent (3-of-3) from 3-point range, and 50 percent (1-of-2) from the line. She also added a team-high six rebounds, two blocks, and two assists in the win. Fellow junior Jordan Brock and senior Akia Harris also turned in solid performances, netting nine points and eight points each, respectively.
Senior Anacia Wilkinson tallied three blocks in the contest, putting her at 200 career blocks and becoming the first Golden Eagle to ever surpass the 200-block mark during their career. Harris' pair of assists in the contest put her in sole possession of sixth place for career assists in the Tech record books.
Tech was slow to start as the Bruins netted back-to-back buckets to take a 4-0 lead. Coleman knocked down a long-ball to bring the Golden Eagles within one, 4-3, but Belmont responded with eight unanswered points over the following four minutes of clock to take a nine-point lead, 12-3, with 3:26 to play. Wilkinson connected on her first jump shot of the game to bring the deficit to seven, 12-5, but Belmont closed the period on a field goal to lead by nine, 14-5, after the opening period.
Belmont maintained an eight-point advantage, 21-13, through the 5:11-minute mark of the second quarter. The Golden Eagles scored six unanswered through the 2:29 mark to bring the game within three, 21-19. Tech traded buckets with the Bruins over the last two minutes of play to eventually close the half and head into the locker room with Belmont leading by five, 26-21.
Coleman and Brock netted back-to-back buckets over the first minute of the second half to bring Tech within one, 26-25. The Bruins went on a 6-0 run through the 7:07 mark to extend their lead back to seven, 32-25, but 8-2 Tech run would bring the contest back to a one-point game at the media timeout with 4:36 to play in the third. Belmont retook a five-point advantage, 40-35, but another Golden Eagle 6-2 rally closed out period to send the game into the final period with Tech down by one, 42-41.
Harris knocked down a huge 3-pointer to open the fourth and give the Golden Eagles their first lead of the contest, 44-42. The Bruins responded to even the score at 44, but another Tech bucket from Coleman put the Golden Eagles back on top 46-44 with 8:51 to play in the contest. However, the Bruins would control the final eight minutes of play as they produced a 24-6 run to bring the game to its final 68-52.
The Bruins were a force on the glass, outrebounding Tech 50-30 in the contest. The Bruins held a 17-10 advantage on the offensive glass, leading to an 18-10 advantage in second-chance points. The Bruins also shot 100 percent (9-of-9) from the free-throw line, while the Golden Eagles only needed 33 percent (2-of-6) of their shots at the line.
"I hurt for our players because they played hard enough to win this game," said Rosamond. "However, beating the top teams comes down to execution and knocking down shots in crunch time, and we just weren't able to finish it tonight."
"Obviously, the Jacksonville game is crucial in many ways for both of us in seeding but also for our team to find some positive momentum and build confidence going into the tournament," said Rosamond. "We have to find a way to put 40 minutes together on both ends of the floor. There would be no better time to do it than Saturday."
The Golden Eagles will face the Jacksonville State Gamecocks in their regular-season finale on Saturday, February 29. Tipoff is slated for 4:45 p.m. CT.
Photo by Thomas Corhern