By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – It's always nice to open the season with a W. The Tennessee Tech women's team did just that in decisive fashion on Tuesday night, using a strong defensive effort to shut down Bethel out of the NAIA's Mid-South Conference 85-46.
The Golden Eagles (1-0) return to action on Saturday as they host Chattanooga at 7 p.m. Bethel remains at 3-1 since it counted the game as an exhibition contest.
"Any time you get to start with a W, that's a good thing," Tech head coach Kim Rosamond said. "There were a lot of positives. In the second half, I was really pleased with our defensive intensity. I challenged them at halftime because I thought we could be better. They responded and we only gave up 19 points in the second half."
Anna Walker made an impressive debut for the Golden Eagles, posting a career-high 22 points on an 8-for-10 night from the floor with a 4-for-4 performance at the free-throw line. Walker, a Chattanooga transfer, previously topped out at 16 points against Western Carolina this past February, going 5-for-9 from the field.
"Anna has really started to blossom over the last two months," Rosamond said. "She was very efficient, shot the ball well. The 22 points speak for themselves, but I thought she did a lot of other things well. She affected the game tonight In a lot of different ways, not just putting the ball in the hole."
She wasn't the only Golden Eagle in double-digit scoring as Mackenzie Coleman had 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting with a 2-for-2 clip at the stripe and 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. Peyton Carter also created a new career-high in scoring for herself with 11 points in the contest.
Anna Jones found herself with double-digit rebounds, collecting 10 to pace the Golden Eagles, who had 50 as a team, 22 offensive and 28 defensive. Bethel, as a team, had 26 total rebounds.
The Golden Eagles also moved the ball around well, dishing out 22 assists, including seven from Jada Guinn, tying her career-best.
"Jada was really solid tonight at the point guard spot," Rosamond said. "She shared the ball well and pushed the pace well. Ansley Hall came in and gave us some really good minutes and I was really pleased with her effort tonight. It's hard to name everybody because I thought there were a lot of individuals that did a lot of really good things tonight."
Bethel kept things as close as it could in the first quarter, but Tech's hot hand – shooting 9-for-18 in the opening 10 minutes – allowed the Golden Eagles to break away. Tech's defense stepped up, forcing 16 turnovers on nine steals, then foul trouble crept in for the visiting Lady Wildcats as two players were disqualified and another two teetered on the edge.
The Golden Eagles held Bethel to 12 points in each the second and third quarters, then just seven points in the final stanza. The Lady Wildcats shot 20 percent from the floor in the third quarter and 18.2 percent in the fourth.
"We did a great job of staying down in the stance and jumping to the basketball," Rosamond said. "Bethel runs a lot of actions and they're good off the dribble. There's a lot of screens so it requires a lot of communication – and those were things we needed to work on (following the earlier exhibition contest against Christian Brothers)."
Tech was able to adjust after losing graduate returnee Jordan Brock to an injury. The highly decorated guard is expected to have surgery later this week and will work toward a return later this season.
"Obviously, over the last week and a half, losing Jordan to a knee injury, that's been tough on her," Rosamond said. "It's tough for our basketball team, but she would want us to move forward. I thought the team responded very well tonight. She is missed – there is no doubt about that – and she'll have surgery on Friday. Our thoughts and prayers are with her and I know she will work really, really hard to get back by the end of the season. I am very proud of the response that our team had coming off of a really tough week. We had a lot of players step up. We had a lot of great leadership. It's a good springboard into Saturday night's game against Chattanooga."
Photo | Jim Dillon