By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Back home in the friendly confines of the Hooper Eblen Center, the Tennessee Tech women will honor its past this weekend with contests between Morehead State and Eastern Illinois, all part of the program's 50th Anniversary Weekend.
Tipoff against Morehead State on Thursday has been moved to a 1 p.m. start time with the wintry forecast looming. Saturday's game against Eastern Illinois is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Tech women's basketball alumni and their families can receive free tickets to Saturday's game. E-mail Kristie Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org for details. Today is also the last day to RSVP for the 50th Celebration event at The Saltbox Inn. The event is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. on Saturday.
During Saturday's game, there will be halftime recognitions of the inaugural 1970 team, former Tech coaches, Ohio Valley Conference championship teams, former trainers and managers and all women's basketball alumni in presence.
Roger Ealey will provide the calls on 106.1 The Eagle, while Dylan Vazzano and Frank Harrell will handle the broadcast on ESPN+ (subscription required).
Morehead State enters the Eblen Center with a 1-11 record overall, starting OVC play off with an 0-2 start after falling 91-64 to Eastern Illinois and 58-34 to Tennessee State. After opening up the season with losses at Michigan State and Marshall, the visiting Eagles claimed their only win of the year thus far with a 72-53 victory over non-Division I foe Midway. Since then, MSU has dropped nine straight games.
The Eagles are shooting .349 from the floor, .214 from .3-point range and .631 from the free-throw line. Their opponents are hitting .437 from the field, .365 from downtown and .823 at the stripe. On scoring average, Morehead is collecting 49.5 points, while its foes are scoring 70.5 – a 21-point differential.
Duke transfer Jada Claude is leading Morehead in scoring and rebounds, putting in 11.0 points and 6.8 boards. Terri Smith, a Western Kentucky and Southeast Missouri transfer, is also averaging double-digit scoring with 10.8 points, while also leading the team in assists (27) and steals (16).
On the glass, Morehead State is being outrebounded 38.4 to 33.3, while averaging three blocks a game – led by Aiden Rainford with seven.
Head coach Cayla Petree is in her first season at Morehead State, but has a 24-42 record in the NCAA ranks following two seasons as a head coach at Division II Angelo State. She also has head coaching stops at NJCAA schools Gulf Coast State College, South Plains College and Cisco College, leading to several NJCAA national tournament appearances.
Tech holds a 62-30 record all-time against Morehead State, including a 35-10 record in Cookeville. The visiting Eagles have won seven of the last 10 meetings, but Tech has won three of the last four, including a split last season with the home team victorious.
After hosting Murray State on Thursday, Eastern Illinois will hit the road to take on the Golden Eagles on Saturday afternoon. The Panthers enter the week with a 1-1 mark in OVC play, topping Morehead State then falling 71-57 against Belmont. EIU is 6-7 overall, winning two of its last five games.
Eastern Illinois trails the Golden Eagles in the all-time series 31-16, with Tech winning seven of the last eight and the last six meetings. The Panthers' last victory came Feb. 4, 2017, in Charleston. EIU is 6-15 in Cookeville.
As a team, EIU is averaging 68.5 points, while allowing 66.1. From the field, the Panthers are shooting .398, including .323 from 3-point range. They are shooting .761 from the free-throw line. On the glass, EIU is being outrebounded 37.3 to 34.8. Opponents are shooting .428 from the field, .305 from three and .690 at the line.
It's a veteran squad for the Panthers as only one freshman has sneaked into the top six scorers on the team with Julia Bengtson averaging 7.5 points. Still, Lariah Washington (14.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and Abby Wahl (12.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg) are providing a strong 1-2 punch for EIU.
Stealing the ball is a strong suit for EIU as the Panthers rank 11th In the NCAA in total steals (153) and 19th in steals per game (11.8). The only team in the conference that ranks higher is the national leader Tennessee State with 186 steals and a 14.3 average. Kira Arthofer ranks 18th in the country in swipes with 36 takeaways.
The Golden Eagles return home winning four of their last five games – the overtime buzzer-beating loss to Tennessee State standing as the only blemish. Tech countered with a victory over Murray State, who entered the game as the winningest team in the OVC. The loss knocked the Racers into third after the first week of conference play with Belmont and TSU standing as the only undefeated teams after the opening weekend.
With Jada Guinn putting together her second career double-double in the win over the Racers – posting career-highs in points (20) and rebounds (14) – the Golden Eagles have three players averaging double-digit scoring once more. Mackenzie Coleman leads the way with 12.2 points and 5.5 boards, while Anna Jones is averaging 10.9 points and a team-best 6.1 rebounds. Guinn stands at 10.4 points and 5.6 rebounds a game.
As a team, Tech is outscoring its opponents 69.0 to 65.1 and outrebounding them 35.9 to 30.5. Tech is shooting .447 from the field, .313 from 3-point range and hitting .719 from the free-throw line, while opponents are shooting .439, .285 from long range and .659 at the stripe.
Tickets for Tennessee Tech basketball are on sale. Call (931) 372-3940, visit the Hooper Eblen Center ticket office or visit TTUsports.com to order.'
Photo | Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information