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Tech women head to Clarksville for final OVC regular-season battle with Austin Peay

Tech women head to Clarksville for final OVC regular-season battle with Austin Peay

By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – It's an end of an era as the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team plays its final game at the Dunn Center on Saturday afternoon as Austin Peay prepares to depart the Ohio Valley Conference for its new home in the Atlantic Sun.

The Golden Eagles will be looking to end the conference series between the two teams with a win as Tech tries to make its case for the OVC championship. Tipoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. Dylan Vazzano will have the call on 106.1 The Eagle, while the game will be streamed on ESPN+ (subscription required).

The game also marks the last road game for the Golden Eagles (17-8, 12-3 OVC) in the regular season. The next time Tech will play away from the Hooper Eblen Center will be the OVC Basketball Championships in Evansville, Ind., as the Golden Eagles host Tennessee State and UT Martin in the final week of the scheduled campaign.

It's also a chance at a milestone for head coach Kim Rosamond as she has the opportunity to win 13 or more OVC contests in a single season, a feat that has only happened 11 times in program history. Including this season, she has guided Tech to three 12-conference-win seasons.

Tech owns an 82-22 record all-time against the Governors. Seventeen of the 22 losses have come since the turn of the millennium with the Golden Eagles winning 26 times. Tech has won the last five meetings, including the last meeting in Cookeville in the closing days of January, topping APSU 59-56.

When it comes to the standings, it's still anyone's race with three games to play in the regular season. Belmont stands on top at 13-2 with SIUE on Saturday, Murray State on Thursday and Tennessee State next Saturday. The Golden Eagles at 12-3 have APSU, Tennessee State and UT Martin remaining. Murray State is in third at 11-4 and take on UT Martin, Belmont and Southeast Missouri. Austin Peay is in fourth at 10-5, taking on Tech, SIUE and Eastern Illinois to close out the year.

The Panthers and the Skyhawks cannot catch Belmont or Tech in the standings, essentially putting the Bruins and the Golden Eagles in a lock for at least one bye in the OVC Basketball Championships with neither one able to finish lower than fourth. Murray and Peay could still drop out of merit bye contention if Eastern Illinois and UT Martin are able to make a push in these final three games. With Tennessee State and SIUE both at 6-9, even sweeping the final three games of the season will not put them in the top four.

There are still scenarios where the top four teams presently in the standings could conceivably walk away with the regular-season title, so these final three games continue to be crucial even as the postseason picture slowly becomes clearer.

The Governors (17-8, 10-5 OVC) have hit a slight skid, losing back-to-back games for the second time this season with a 60-57 loss at UT Martin on Monday, then a 68-61 overtime defeat at Murray State on Thursday. Including their wins over Southeast Missouri and Tennessee State last week, the Governors have played five games in a nine-day span when they take on the Golden Eagles on Saturday.

Karle Pace is averaging 15.6 points to pace the Govs, while Yamia Johnson is also scoring double-figures a night with a 14.8-point average. Lyric Cole leads the team in rebounding, pulling down 5.8 caroms per game. On average, the Govs are outscoring opponents 67.0 to 58.8. The numbers even out slightly in conference-only stats with Pace averaging 16.5 points and Johnson 13.7 as the team is outscoring opponents 65.9-60.0. The team is shooting at a solid .450 percentage, including .392 from 3-point range.

The Golden Eagles got it done at the free-throw line on Thursday night, knocking down 29 of 35 free throw attempts against Southeast Missouri. Following the loss to Belmont on Feb. 5, Tech has won its last three games, four of its last five, nine of its last 10 and 15 of its last 18 games.

Anna Jones, the conference's reigning Player of the Week had her second straight double-double and fourth of the season against the Redhawks, scoring 22 points and pulling down a career-high 16 rebounds en route to the victory. She is averaging 13.2 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, leading the team in both categories. In conference play alone, Jones is averaging 15.0 points and 8.2 rebounds.

In her current nine-game streak of double-digit scoring, she is averaging 17.6 points and 9.0 rebounds, stretching back to the victory over Belmont on January 22. All four of her double-doubles this season have come during this current streak as she is trying to make a case for herself as OVC Player of the Year. Jones currently ranks ninth in overall points (304, 13.2 per-game) and third in rebounds (165, 7.2 per-game), but is fifth in scoring (195, 15.0 per-game) and first in rebounding (104, 8.0 per-game) in league competition alone.

Mackenzie Coleman is second in the conference in blocks with 29, while also averaging 12.0 points and 5.3 rebounds. Jada Guinn is averaging 9.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists, while Anna Walker is averaging 8.1 points and 3.4 rebounds.

The Golden Eagles currently rank fourth in the nation in total free-throw attempts at 540, the most in the OVC, while also ranking 10th in all of Division I with 380 made. Troy leads the nation in both, drawing 618 free-throw attempts and hitting 454. Murray State has made the most in the OVC with 410.

Tech returns to the Eblen Center next Thursday night for the final two games of the regular-season campaign, hosting Tennessee State on Thursday and UT Martin on Saturday. Tickets are on sale now – visit the Eblen Center ticket office or TTUsports.com or call (931) 372-3940 to order.

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