By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
KNOXVILLE – When the final horn sounded at Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday night, there were a lot of positives for the Tennessee Tech women. While a 76-48 loss to the No. 11 Tennessee squad wasn't the desired outcome, the Golden Eagles have plenty to build on as they enter the December portion of the non-conference schedule.
Tech (2-5) battled through the contest and had a strong showing in the first half, but a 1-for-13 finish in the third quarter saw the Lady Vols distance themselves.
"Obviously, Tennessee is a very talented and very good basketball team," Tech head coach Kim Rosamond said. We got overwhelmed in the third quarter. Offensively, we shot seven percent, 1-of-13 in the third quarter, that's a credit to Tennessee's defense. We didn't handle that third quarter well. I thought our kids battled. I was very proud of the first half. The fight, the togetherness and the execution that we showed against one of the best teams in the country.
"You take out the third quarter and I thought our kids continued to fight. I thought we continued to defend on the defensive end, we just weren't able to keep them off the offensive glass. I think we gave up 13 offensive boards in the second half and we would get stops, but we weren't able to finish the play. There was growth from our team tonight. I thought our team fought and battled. We got handed a lot of lessons that we will take into the rest of the season."
Anna Jones led the Golden Eagles in scoring with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting and newcomer Anna Walker had nine points in a big effort off of the bench. Mackenzie Coleman tabbed in with eight points, while Maaliya Owens scored seven and had a team-high five rebounds. Jada Guinn ended with six points, but also grabbed three boards, three assists, four steals and a block.
The first quarter saw the Golden Eagles come out unfazed by the pregame theatrics and the atmosphere at Thompson-Boling. Tech came out and played its game, keeping pace with the Lady Vols and even leading at several points in the opening stanza. The Golden Eagles were 6-of-16 from the field, including 3-of-9 from 3-point range, collecting better percentages than Tennessee in both categories to end the first 10 minutes trailing by a single point.
The Lady Vols (7-0) were a lot more efficient in the second quarter, knocking down nine of their 11 buckets to extend the halftime advantage to 38-30, outscoring the Golden Eagles 20-13 in the period.
"What we did well in the first half was our pace," Rosamond said. "I thought we got out and pushed in transition. Our post players did a great job of running the middle of the floor which opened up some things for us. I thought we were able to attack the basket and get some good shots. We crashed the boards extremely well and we talked about that. I thought in the second half, you could see our pace just totally slowed down and some of that came from not getting stops on defense. We kept giving up offensive boards so we could not get stops and get out in transition. I thought our effort on the glass during the first half was extremely good. We just were not able to maintain that in the second half."
However, in the third quarter, Tennessee started to pull away as Tech's shots did not fall. In the third, the Golden Eagles hit just one of their 13 shots, a 7.7-percent showing as Tech was 0-for-5 from long distance and three of its five points in the quarter came at the charity stripe. Tennessee won the quarter, scoring 18 points to the Golden Eagles' five.
The Lady Vols connected their longest scoring run of the game in the fourth quarter with an 11-point swing, but Tech countered late with a seven-point run of its own. The result was a 20-13 quarter of its own in favor of Tennessee.
The size and physical presence of the Lady Vols showed in the contest as Tennessee blocked 10 shots, including four for Tamari Key, collected 53 rebounds to Tech's 27 and dominated the paint 52-22. The Golden Eagles persevered though – Tech allowed just four steals, kept fouls down to 10 and only giving Tennessee seven shots from the charity stripe.
Key ended the game with a double-double, dropping 11 points and collecting 11 rebounds, but it was Alexus Dye leading the way with 20 points on 10-of-15 shooting and nine rebounds. Tess Darby also collected 12 points, going 4-for-6 – all 3-pointers.
Jordan Horston, Tennessee's leading scorer and rebounder entering the contest, was held to nine points on 4-of-11 shooting and five rebounds.
The Golden Eagles return to action on Sunday as they travel to Western Kentucky to continue the road trip. Tipoff from Bowling Green is slated for 2 p.m.
Photo | Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information