By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
NASHVILLE – The new year will ring in the next few days, but it's time for the Tennessee Tech women to get to work as they open Ohio Valley Conference play this weekend as the Golden Eagles travel to Tennessee State on Thursday and Murray State on Saturday.
It'll be the first game for the Golden Eagles in two weeks after its last scheduled contest against Samford was canceled due to COVID-19 protocols in the Bulldog program.
Tipoff on Thursday at the Gentry Center is currently slated for 5:30 p.m. On Saturday at Murray State, the tipoff time is currently set at 5 p.m at the CFSB Center. If game times change with the postponement of this weekend's contests for the Tech men, updates will be found on TTUsports.com and on the team's social media pages.
On radio, Roger Ealey will provide the call on 106.1 The Eagle, while the games will be streamed online on ESPN+ (subscription required).
Tennessee State enters Thursday a much-improved team, bringing along five wins in 11 outings, compared to a winless season last year. The Tigers (5-6) have also won their last two games, topping Lipscomb 50-49 on Dec. 15, before beating Stetson 60-56 on Dec. 19 before going on Christmas break.
As a team, the Tigers are shooting .389 from the floor, .231 from beyond the arc and .704 at the free-throw line. TSU is averaging 66.8 points per game, while allowing 66.0 on defense. The Tigers are also averaging 19.9 turnovers a game, but the defense is also forcing 23.8 on average.
The Gentry Center hasn't been kind to the Tigers this season as TSU is 1-3 at home with the lone win coming over Fisk in the season opener.
Freshman guard Gia Adams leads TSU in scoring and assists, averaging 13.0 points per game with 32 total assists. She is shooting .306 from the field with a team-high 144 shot attempts, including a 15-for-64 effort from 3-point range. Adams is also shooting .714 from the charity stripe, hitting 40 of her 56 tries.
Graduate transfer Tatyana Davis – who spent her undergrad years at Toledo – is currently scoring 12.8 points a night, shooting .412 from the floor and .742 at the free-throw lone. Dominique Claytor, a graduate transfer student from East Carolina, leads the team in rebounds with 7.6 per game.
The Tigers are averaging 38.2 rebounds, but are allowing 39.1 rebounds to their opponents.
The Golden Eagles control the all-time series between the two squads with a 62-14 record, winning 20 of the last 23 meetings.
Murray State enters the weekend with a conference-best 8-3 record – two of the three losses coming to Southeastern Conference opponents in Missouri and Florida, as well as a 75-66 loss at Samford. The Racers have won two of their last three and already had a five-game winning streak in tow this season.
The Racers can score. Murray State can play defense. MSU is averaging a conference-best 73.7 points on offense and allowing 58.7 points on defense. From the floor, Murray State is shooting .467, including .345 from long-range with 60 3-pointers made in 174 tries. The Racers also get to the free-throw line a lot, hitting 165 of 214 shots at the stripe for a .771 clip.
Murray can also control the boards, outrebounding its opponents 44 to 32.
Sophomore Katelyn Young has been a powerhouse so far this season, leading the conference in nine categories – field goals made (80), field goal percentage (.684), points (217), free throws attempted (64), free throws made (52), points per game (19.7), rebounds (94) and rebounds per game (8.5).
Senior Macey Turley is the conference's top 3-point shooter this season, knocking down 29 of 66 attempts for a .439 percentage.
Young isn't the only Racer pulling down big board numbers as Alexis Burpo is averaging 8.1 rebounds and Hannah McKay 6.8.
Tech is 67-19 against the Racers all-time, but Murray State pulled off the 68-67 victory in the last meeting, closing out the regular season at the Hooper Eblen Center. The Golden Eagles won the last contest at the CFSB Center 75-58.
The Golden Eagles have won their last three games, coming off of a tough non-conference slate with contests against Chattanooga, Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee, FGCU, New Mexico State, Tennessee, Western Kentucky and Western Carolina.
Entering this week, Tech (5-5) is averaging 67.0 points on offense and 62.3 points on defense, while the team is shooting .439 from the field and .299 from 3-point range. The Golden Eagles are also shooting .706 at the free-throw line, hitting 142 of 201 shots.
Tech is also outrebounding its opponents 35.8 to 31.0.
Graduate Mackenzie Coleman, buoyed by a pair of 21-point games in the last three outings, currently leads Tech in scoring with a 12.0-point average, while senior Anna Jones is averaging 10.9 points and a team-best 6.1 rebounds. Junior Jada Guinn leads the team in assists (39) and steals (15), while Coleman has a team-high 12 blocks.
The Golden Eagles will return home next week as Tech hosts Morehead State on Jan. 6 and Eastern Illinois on Jan. 8, the same day as the team's 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Saltbox Inn. RSVPs for the event are due in by Jan. 2.
For updates on the schedule. Follow TTUsports.com as well as the team's social media channels on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.