By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – It was a bit close for comfort on Saturday afternoon, but what was important for the Tennessee Tech women was that they were coming home with the victory. It took a physical effort to get the win as SIUE forced the Golden Eagles into tough shot after tough shot, but Tech earned the 68-64 decision at First Community Arena.
The Golden Eagles (16-8, 11-3 OVC) remain in second place after the day's action is through, trailing Belmont (16-7, 12-2 OVC) by a game. Austin Peay (17-6, 10-3 OVC) is a half-game back from the Golden Eagles, while Murray State (18-7, 10-4 OVC) is a game back. Eastern Illinois (8-6 OVC), UT Martin (6-7 OVC), Tennessee State (6-8 OVC) and SIUE (5-9 OVC) would round out the conference tournament field if the regular season ended today.
Neither team surged out to a big lead – Tech led by four at the most towards the end of the second quarter, SIUE by five in the waning moments of the opening stanza. The score was tied 10 times and it flipped 13 times. Both teams were scrambling for the ball as possession was locked up a stunning 12 times.
Physicality was the name of the game as SIUE's effort led to 24 personal fouls – including two fifth-foul disqualifications – creating 30 trips to the free-throw line. Tech hit 16 of those shots, including 5-for-6 for and 6-for-13 for the Annas Walker and Jones respectively. The physical effort also led to 22 Tech turnovers, of which the Cougars converted into 20 points.
Anna Jones took control of the game as she knocked down the jumper to break the final tie of the game with 36 seconds remaining, then hit the game-sealing free-throw win one second left. The Jackson native was running the Tech offensive assault well, collecting her fourth career double-double and the third of the season as she finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Jones ended the game 8-for-14 from the field with one 3-pointer.
The other Anna, Anna Walker, had a great game in her 26-plus minutes on the court. Walker pulled down a game- and career-high 13 rebounds – almost doubling her previous career-high of seven set at Chattanooga against Eastern Kentucky. Walker needed one more point to get her first double-double, finishing with nine points.
Tech was able to keep within distance with a strong effort on the glass, outrebounding SIUE 45-28. In addition to the Annas double-digit days, Jada Guinn had nine boards to go along with her 15 points. Guinn was 7-for-10 from the field.
Gabby Nikitinaite was a force for the Cougars, scoring 17 points on 8-of-16 shooting, while Allie Troeckler (16 points, nine rebounds) and Mikayla Kinnard (14 points) also scored in double figures. Prima Chellis ended the game with a team-high 10 rebounds.
The Golden Eagles return to action on Thursday as they host Southeast Missouri at the Hooper Eblen Center for a 5:30 p.m. tipoff. Tickets are on sale now – call (931) 372-3940, visit the Hooper Eblen Center ticket office or visit TTUsports.com to order.
Photo | Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information