By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Another night in the Ohio Valley Conference, another battle as the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team escaped a comeback bid from Eastern Illinois to take a 65-60 victory on Monday night.
The win gave Tech (11-7, 6-2) its fourth straight OVC win, while also winning nine games in its last 11 played.
The Panthers utilized its inside game to make its bid over the Golden Eagles, scoring 48 points in the paint, but Tech controlled the boards by a sizeable margin, outrebounding EIU 37-26. Among the 37 rebounds, the Golden Eagles were able to pull down 15 offensive boards, creating 15 second-chance points.
Still, Eastern Illinois (8-10, 3-4 OVC) made it interesting in the waning seconds of the game. After Anna Jones hit a layup with 2:13 remaining in the game, Tech went 2:07 without scoring, allowing the Panthers to cut the lead to three points as Kira Arthofer and Abby Wahl added buckets, the latter with 1:29 left.
Neither team scored for the next 1:23 until Maaliya Owens drew a foul and went to the line for a pair of throws. Previously 4-for-4, Owens calmly drained the two free throws to put Tech up by the final margin of five points and seal the victory. She finished the game 6-for-6 at the line and 14 total points with a pair of 3-pointers. In the fourth quarter alone, Owens had nine of the Golden Eagles' points, echoing her heroics in Charleston in the 2020-21 campaign as she scored nine of her 16 points in a 72-67 victory at Lantz Arena.
As a team, the Golden Eagles knocked down seven 3-pointers, while Eastern Illinois, who had been averaging six 3-pointers a game, was held to just one.
Mackenzie Coleman led Tech with 15 points as she was perfect from the field, shooting 6-for-6, including 3-for-3 from long-range, She also collected five rebounds, an assist, two steals and four blocks. Jones picked up her second career double-double as she scored 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting, while also pulling down a career-high 13 boards – five on offense. Jada Guinn also had 12 points with six rebounds.
Wahl led EIU with 15 points, while Arthofer and Lariah Washington each had 14 points. Washington had six of the Panthers' 10 steals.
After the Panthers scored the first bucket of the game, Tech rattled off six straight points as Coleman had a jumper and Kesha Brady had a pair of layups. Before the quarter ended, EIU had an 8-0 run to retake a 14-10 lead before Owens ended the streak with a trey with 1:38 left in the quarter. The stanza ended with the Panthers leading 16-13.
An early five-point swing saw Tech retake a 20-18 lead on a Guinn jumper at 8:13, but Washington tied the game at 20 on the other end of the court. After trading buckets, the Golden Eagles pulled together a 10-point run to take a 32-22 lead with 5:03 left before the half, but EIU took another six-point swing to chip away and the half ended with Tech up 35-30.
Eastern Illinois was able to tie the game with a minute left in the third quarter on a Wahl jumper, but a pair of Owens free throws was able to put the Golden Eagles back up 47-45 as the period came to an end.
Wahl opened up the fourth with a three-point play, collecting a layup to tie the game at 47 and draw a foul. She then hit the resulting free throw to retake the lead. Following a turnover, Arthofer connected on a layup to give the Panthers a 3-point lead. Owens then tied the game with a 3-pointer, which ended up becoming the start of a 9-0 Tech run with layups for Jones and Guinn and a pair of Owens charity tosses to put Tech up 56-50 with 6:11 left.
The Golden Eagles never trailed again, but the game was still within reach as Arthofer hit back-to-back buckets to cut it back within two at 56-54 before Guinn had a three-point play for the Golden Eagles, then Owens hit a layup to put Tech back up by seven with three minutes left. Wahl hit a jumper, then Jones gave the Golden Eagles their final field goal with 2:13 left.
Arthofer and Wahl sank buckets to cut it back to a one-possession game with 1:29 to go, then Tech missed three straight shots, then EIU's Morgan Litwiller attempted a 3-pointer. The shot failed, but Owens drew the foul with six seconds remaining in the game. Owens sank both free throws to ice the game.
The Golden Eagles will get a couple days to rest up and prepare for their next game as they are idle on Thursday, then will host Austin Peay on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
Tickets for Saturday's game are on sale now. Call (931) 372-3940, visit the Hooper Eblen Center ticket office or visit TTUsports.com.
Photo | Jim Dillon