By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – If it seems like it's been a while since the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team has graced the court of the Hooper Eblen Center, it has as the Golden Eagles' last game at home came just before the Thanksgiving holiday.
Approaching over three weeks since the last outing in the friendly confines, the Tech women will end that drought in front of a large contingent of Upper Cumberland school children as students from Putnam, White and Overton Counties will converge on the Hoop for the annual Education Day contest.
The game against Tennessee Wesleyan on Thursday is scheduled for an 11 a.m. start. Roger Ealey will provide the call on 106.1 The Eagle, while Dylan Vazzano and Frank Harrell will handle the broadcast on ESPN+ (subscription required).
Season ticket holders are advised that, during the 11 a.m. game, sections F through N will be blocked off for the visiting students to keep their school groups together. Season ticket holders and general admission tickets will be seated in sections A through E for the day's opener. The Tennessee Tech men's game later that afternoon against Montreat College will return to normal seating.
Tech is 2-1 in Education Day contests at home, defeating Winthrop 70-41 in 2017-18 and UNC Asheville 60-53 in 2018-19, before falling to then-Ohio Valley Conference opponent Jacksonville State 66-50 in 2019-20. The COVID-19 pandemic prevented an event from being held in the 2020-21 campaign.
While the Tech women (4-5) have had success before against the NAIA power, the Golden Eagles holding an 8-0 record against Tennessee Wesleyan all-time, the Bulldogs enter Thursday's contest with an 8-2 mark. The two losses have come to fellow NAIA school Rust College out of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference back on Halloween in the Fisk University Tournament in Nashville, then a defeat on Sunday at Lipscomb, falling 86-44 in their other meeting against an NCAA Division I program so far this season.
Tech head coach Kim Rosamond, who guided the Golden Eagles to their 976th program win last time out against Western Carolina on Thursday, is 4-0 against Tennessee Wesleyan.
While their 8-2 mark is impressive, so are the statistics the team is putting up. TWC is averaging 73.9 points per game, currently ranked 61st out of 237 NAIA teams in scoring. Three-point shots are a strong suit as they're hitting at a 36.9-percent clip and averaging 8.3 hits in 22.5 tries per game, ranking 27th in treys made, 74th in attempts and 11th in percentage in the NAIA.
The Bulldogs also rank fourth in fewest fouls allowed in the NAIA, averaging 11.8 whistles per game.
As a team, Tennessee Wesleyan is allowing an average of 67.3 points per game, while shooting 43.2 percent from the field, 36.9 percent from beyond the arc and 73.5 from the charity stripe. Their opponents are shooting 41.3 percent from the field, 28.5 percent from long range and 61.1 percent from the stripe.
Jordan Wright leads TWC in scoring, as the senior guard is averaging 13.7 points per game. Jacelyn Stone (11.3), Cambree Mayo (11.3) and Madison McClurg (10.8) are also averaging double-digit scoring.
When it comes to 3-pointers, Wright and Mayo are leading the team in attempts, averaging 5.6 and 5.5 shots respectively, while Mayo is averaging 2.5 connections, Wright 2.0. Mayo has a 45.5-percent success rate this season, Wright connecting at 35.7.
McClurg is leading the Bulldogs in rebounds as the senior forward is pulling down 6.0 boards a game, followed by Wright with 5.2. TWC is averaging 35.6 rebounds a game to their opponents' 37.8.
After breaking up their five-game losing streak, which included Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee, then-AP No. 25 FGCU, New Mexico State and current AP No. 7 Tennessee, the Golden Eagles have gone on to win back-to-back games in convincing fashion, topping Western Kentucky 76-72 and Western Carolina 67-50.
Mackenzie Coleman scored 21 points in each game and has taken the team scoring lead, now averaging 12.4 points, while Anna Jones is averaging 11.2 a game. Both players hold the team lead in rebounds as Coleman and Jones are both averaging 6.0 caroms.
As a team, Tech is averaging 65.1 points a game, while allowing 65.4. The Golden Eagles are shooting .432 from the field, ranked 88th among 348 Division I programs, while shooting .278 from 3-point range. Anna Walker stands as the team's top long-range shooter by percentage at .462 (6-for-13), while Coleman (11-for-27, .407) has knocked down the most.
From the free-throw line, Tech is shooting .690 as a unit, ranking 191st, but ranks 52nd in free throws attempted and 54th in free throws made. Jones has hit a team-best 29, while Coleman has the best percentage among players with more than 10 tries at .882.
Jada Guinn stands just outside the double-digit scoring mark at 9.4 points a game, and is third on the team in rebounds at 4.4, but leads the Golden Eagles in assists, dishing out 4.1 a game.
Following Thursday's contest, Tech will have one more game before adjourning for the Christmas break, hosting Samford next Tuesday in a 2 p.m. matinee.
Tickets for all home games are on sale now. Call (931) 372-3940, visit the Hooper Eblen Center ticket office or visit TTUsports.com to order.
File photo | Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information