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Golden Eagles see season come to close in WNIT second round

Golden Eagles see season come to close in WNIT second round

By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information

HOUSTON, Texas – Tennessee Tech wasn't going down without a fight. After all, throughout the course of the 2021-22 season, the Golden Eagle women had never backed down against tough odds, even against opponents from the upper echelon of the sport.

The Golden Eagles had an opportunity. If you look at the final score, it's misleading. The eight-point margin that Houston held on the final tally was from only its third lead of the game, boosted by a 3:17 scoring drought for Tech and nine unanswered points to take a 63-55 victory over the Golden Eagles in the second round of the WNIT.

The Tech women had their hands full with a speedy, aggressive and smothering defense. Still, they found ways to score. They had the advantage for 31 of the game's 40 minutes. They were so close, but the host Cougars were able to make plays in the waning moments to find a way to advance.

With the score knotted up at 43-all at the end of the third quarter, it became one last sprint for the right to advance to the winner of Monday night's game between Alabama and Tulane. Houston turned up the defense and held the Golden Eagles to 12 points, shooting 38.5 from the field and 0-for-5 from 3 – a key stat considering that Tech had built its advantage early on with some key long-range shots.

Tiara Young scored seven points and Tatyana Hill six to propel the Cougars to 20 points in the final quarter. Houston converted six turnovers into nine points in the final 10 minutes – nearly half of its points in the fourth.

In what was one of the most thrilling, courageous and demanding games the Tech women had played all season, the Golden Eagles fought.

Anna Jones led the Golden Eagles with 15 points on 6-for-14 shooting, pulling down seven rebounds. Mackenzie Coleman had 14 points with four boards, shooting five-for-11 from the floor. Jada Guinn had eight points, seven rebounds and four steals.

Tech finished the season with a 21-11 record.

Laila Blair scored seven of her 16 points in the second quarter as she put the Cougars on her shoulders. Young ended with a double-double, scoring 11 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. Hill ended with 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting.

While Tech ended the game with 23 turnovers, even casual observers would note they were created by a potent Houston defense. The Cougars created 25 points off turnovers and their physical nature led to 42 points in the paint.

Houston only won the rebound battle by two – 34 to 32 – but it won on second-chance points using its offensive caroms to create 18 points. Tech had eight points on 10 offensive rebounds.

The Golden Eagles scored the first eight points of the contest as Megan Clark and Coleman hit back-to-back 3-pointers, then Jones hit a driving layup before Houston scored its first points on a Young second-chance bucket. Coleman pulled down a rebound and put it back up for a layup to give the Golden Eagles' their largest lead of the game at eight points, a mark they'd hit one more time before the quarter closed.

Coleman had eight points in the first quarter, going 3-for-3 from the field, including 1-for-1 from three. Jones pulled down five rebounds in the period. Tech was 5-for-13 from the floor in the first 10 minutes, Houston 4-for-13 as Tech led 15-10.

The Cougars chipped away, tying the game at 21-all as Britney Onyeje hit a second-chance 3-pointer. Blair knocked down a 3-pointer and two layups to give Houston a 28-24 lead, but Tech closed out the half on a 5-0 run with Guinn's layup and Peyton Carter's 3-pointer to make it a 29-28 Golden Eagle lead at the intermission.

Hill heated up in the third quarter, scoring eight points on 4-of-5 shooting as Houston edged Tech 15-14 in the quarter. She gave the Cougars a brief lead with 5:15 left on a layup, then Young took a steal and converted to a layup to lead 54-51. A pair of Kesha Brady free throws and a Jones layup gave Tech a 55-54 lead with 3:17 remaining – the final bucket Tech hit in the contest.

For the remaining span, Tech missed five shots with two blocked as the Cougars scored nine unanswered points.

It was a bittersweet loss as the game ended the Tech careers of Brady, Clark, Coleman, Jones and Grace Pelphrey. Of the 2021-22 seniors and graduates, Jordan Brock will return for another season next year as the Golden Eagles will look to improve on the success of this campaign.

Photo | Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information 

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