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Golden Eagles hold off Austin Peay to stay in first place

Golden Eagles hold off Austin Peay to stay in first place

By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – It was a fight to the finish on Saturday night, but when the dust settled in the Eblen Center, the Tennessee Tech women topped Austin Peay and cut the Ohio Valley Conference logjam at the top to just the Golden Eagles and Belmont as Tech topped Austin Peay 59-56.

Anna Jones led Tech (12-7, 7-2 OVC) with 16 points and almost collected her second consecutive double-double, but finished the night with nine rebounds. Maaliya Owens also had another stellar second half, scoring 12 of her 13 points in the second half as she was 3-for-5 from the field with two 3-pointers and was 4-for-5 from the charity stripe.

The victory gave the Golden Eagles their fifth straight win and 10 in the last 12 games. At the midway point in league play, Tech now stands tied with Belmont for the OVC lead at 7-2 with a rematch standing just a week away in Cookeville.

The two teams went through four lead changes and three ties in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter, but Jada Guinn gave Tech the 52-50 lead with 3:45 remaining with a layup off of a turnover, then added a free throw as she drew a foul and completed the 3-point play.

Lyric Cole split a pair of tosses on the other end to cut the Tech advantage to one, but Owens took a pass from Mackenzie Coleman and hit a layup, drawing a foul as well. Owens knocked down the extra toss and the Golden Eagles were back out by four, 55-51, with 2:34 remaining,

Ninety seconds ticked off the clock before either team scored again as Karle Pace drove to the basket and hit a layup to make it a two-point game with a minute left, then a quick foul on Jada Guinn led to another point as she hit the front end of two free throws.

Pace missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer and Nina de Leon Negron caught the carom, but the Govs' offensive series ended as D'shara Booker was whistled for an offensive foul. Guinn drew a foul and hit the first of two free throws, climbing back out 57-53 with 33 seconds left.

APSU climbed back within two as Yamia Johnson caught the offensive board after Pace's next 3-point try and laid it back into the basket and drew a foul. She hit the resulting free throw and it was a one-point game again at 57-56.

With 11 seconds left, Anna Walker drew a foul and missed both shots, but Owens collected the loose ball and drew a foul. Owens drained both charity tosses and the Governors failed to get a shot off before the clock wound down to zero.

The Golden Eagles were able to draw 35 shots at the free-throw line. While the percentage was an uncharacteristic 54.3 percent, Tech did collect 19 points at the charity stripe.

Tech also hit six 3-pointers, Jones and Owens each collecting two.

Austin Peay outscored the Golden Eagles in the first two quarters – 17-15 in the first and 11-9 in the second – to take a four-point, 28-24 advantage into the intermission. Tech outscored the Governors 18-12 in the third quarter to make it a 42-40 Golden Eagle lead at the end of three before the two teams battled back and forth to open the final period of play.

Cole and Johnson led the Governors (13-6, 6-3 OVC) with 13 points each, while Cole had nine rebounds and eight for Booker.

The Golden Eagles return to action on Monday as they travel to UT Martin (5-13, 2-5 OVC) for a 6 p.m. start, a makeup from their earlier scheduled contest that was postponed as the Skyhawks entered COVID protocols. They'll then head to Morehead State on Thursday before returning home next Saturday in a rematch with Belmont.

Photo | Jim Dillon

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