By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A hard-fought game from buzzer to buzzer, Thursday's Ohio Valley Conference opener for the Tennessee Tech women came down to a fantastic finish.
Unfortunately, the incredible last-ditch shot in overtime to win the game came from a desperation heave from Tennessee State freshman Gia Adams, giving the Tigers a 96-93 victory – their first conference victory since February 20, 2020, against Eastern Kentucky, ending a 23-game skid in league play.
The Golden Eagles fall to 5-6 on the season, 0-1 in league play. The opening weekend for the Golden Eagles continues on Saturday as Tech travels to Murray State for a 5 p.m. start on New Year's Day.
The two teams stayed close for the opening minutes, but Tech was able to break away on a run, outscoring the Tigers 27-18 through the first quarter. The Golden Eagles led the contest for 38:10 of the 45 total minutes and had two double-digit leads in the contest, controlling the game by as many as 13 points in the third quarter.
But a very improved Tennessee State squad used its speed and aggressiveness to claw its way back into the contest, pressuring the Golden Eagles into 25 total turnovers, which the Tigers converted into 33 points. TSU also controlled the paint, collecting 60 points under the rim.
While State was winning the scoring battle there, outscoring Tech by 16, the Golden Eagles did have a better night on the glass, outrebounding the Tigers 37-21, including 14 offensive boards.
Maaliya Owens made her first start of the season and started Tech out on fire, knocking down three 3-pointers in her first four tries in the opening quarter. She ended the game with 11 points and seven rebounds. Kesha Brady led the Golden Eagles in scoring with 20 points and six rebounds, including an 11-of-15 night at the free-throw line.
Jada Guinn was efficient on the floor, going 6-of-7 from the field and 6-of-8 from the line for 18 points with four assists and three steals. Mackenzie Coleman ended the night with 13 points, four rebounds, a steal and two of Tech's five blocks.
Both offenses were clicking as both teams shot 50 percent or better through the first three quarters. Tech's shooting rate slipped to 44.4 in the fourth quarter, then 33.3 in the extra session to end the night on a 53.4-percent clip. The Tigers finished shooting 59.1 percent, including 60 percent in overtime.
Following a pair of free throws with 17 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter from Brady to give Tech an 86-81 lead, a series of events saw the Tigers even the game back up and send it to overtime. Anna Walker blocked an Adams jumper, but TSU claimed the ball and Alexis Pierce had the layup to cut the deficit to three.
After a 30-second timeout to advance the ball, the inbounds pass to Walker was contested and the ball went out of bounds. A review was inconclusive to overturn the call, giving the ball back to State. As time ran out on the clock, Adams missed a 3-point try, but Brady was whistled for a foul. The clock review confirmed that the foul was committed with 0.4 seconds remaining, giving Adams three free throws. The freshman hit all three, sending the game to OT.
The overtime period went back and forth, Tech taking its last lead with 1:08 left as Coleman split her pair of free throws. On the other end, Pierce missed a layup and Sierra McCullough came down with the offensive rebound and drew a foul. She split her charity tosses, tying the game at 93.
On Tech's next possession, the TSU defense kept the Golden Eagles from finding a good look, forcing a shot-clock violation with 24 seconds remaining. Adams turned the ball over with two seconds left, then reclaimed the ball just across midcourt, prompting one last heave from Adams.
How close was it from not counting? Just one-tenth of a second after the official review. The freshman ended the game with 23 points, including six of the biggest points in the contest.
Tatyana Davis led the Tigers (6-6) with 25 points on 11-of-15 shooting, while Pierce had 16 points. Dominique Claytor ended the night with 15 points and seven steals.
Photo | Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information