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Tech women face Monday showdown at UT Martin

Tech women face Monday showdown at UT Martin

By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information

MARTIN, Tenn. – It's another quick turnaround for the Tennessee Tech women as the Golden Eagles packed up on Sunday afternoon and headed to UT Martin for a Monday night contest.

Tipoff from the Elam Center is scheduled for 6 p.m. Dylan Vazzano will handle the broadcast for 106.1 The Eagle, while Chris Brinkley and Eddie Suiter will call the came for ESPN+ (subscription required).

Following last weekend with a visit to Belmont then returning home to take on Eastern Illinois, the pattern is flip-flopped this week as the Golden Eagles are coming off of a thrilling victory over Austin Peay to stay in a tie at the top of the Ohio Valley Conference standings with Belmont and now taking on a UT Martin team that has been a challenging opponent in years past.

The Golden Eagles (12-7, 7-2 OVC) have an identical conference record with the Bruins at 7-2, while Murray State is close behind at 7-3 in the league. Austin Peay dropped into fourth at 6-3, then Eastern Illinois, Tennessee State and SIUE are in a three-way tie for fifth at 5-4. With nine games remaining on the conference slate for most of the conference, there's still a lot of room for things to happen in the standings.

But Tech is the hottest team in the league, winning five straight games and 10 of its last 12. That also means the rest of the league is certainly taking notice with the last three games decided by five points or less.

The Skyhawks (5-13, 2-5 OVC) haven't had their typical season of late, but the Golden Eagles aren't discounting them. UTM has won 13 of the last 17 meetings, but Tech has won two of the last three meetings in the Elam Center, including a thrilling 77-73 contest last February. The Golden Eagles lead the all-time series 47-26.

Paige Pipkin leads the way for UTM in scoring, posting a 14.1 average, while Shae Littleford has a 10.3-point mark. Their marks are slightly higher in league play with Pipkin averaging 16.6 points and Littleford 13.0, while Kyannah Grant is also putting in double-digit points at an 11.3 rate.

Looking at the overall stats, the Skyhawks are being outscored 58.5 to 52.7, but both sides have seen their offensive numbers improve as UTM is averaging 61.6 points to its foes 65.6.

The record is also deceiving as the Skyhawks have played two fewer games than the rest of the league as UTM is making up games from their time under COVID protocols. Monday's game is one of those makeups, while they also have Monday games against Belmont and Austin Peay on the slate.

The Skyhawks are also a bit younger than some of their recent squads. Outside of graduate transfer Holly Forbes, UTM has zero seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and seven freshmen on their 13-player roster.

And as long as Kevin McMillan is still at the helm of the Skyhawk program, they're going to be a challenge.

The Golden Eagles are averaging 67.5 points per game, while allowing 62.5 to opponents. The numbers aren't too far off from OVC competition – 68.0 to 62.8. In the overall numbers, Tech has two double-digit scorers in Mackenzie Coleman (11.9 ppg) and Anna Jones (11.0 ppg), while Jones leads in rebounds (6.6 rpg) and Jada Guinn in assists (3.6 apg). Jones narrowly missed her second straight double-double in the win over Austin Peay on Saturday night, but averaged one for the week, with a 13.0-point, 11.0-rebound average against Eastern Illinois and the Govs.

Maaliya Owens also had a tremendous week in the last two games, averaging 13.5 points as she was 11-for-13 at the free-throw line and helping build momentum in the second half of both contests.

In conference competition, the Golden Eagles have four players averaging double-digit scoring, led by Coleman (11.8 ppg), Jones (11.1 ppg), Anna Walker (11.0 ppg) and Guinn (10.6 ppg). Jones is also bringing down 7.3 rpg in conference contests, 5.7 for Guinn and 5.0 for Coleman.

Coleman is also the league's top shot-blocker, deflecting 25 shots, 1.32 per game, with 13 coming against OVC teams.

Following Monday's contest, Tech will head to Morehead State on Thursday, then return home on Saturday for a rematch against Belmont.

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