By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – After a slow start, the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team battled back in the second quarter to erase a 12-point deficit to take a halftime lead, then held on to claim a 75-70 victory over Samford on Monday night in the Hooper Eblen Center.
Junior Anna Walker led Tech with a career-high 24 points, shooting 11-for-15 from the field, as she also pulled down five rebounds and blocked two shots. The sizeable posts for Samford – including Sussy Ngulefac, Kathleen Wheeler and Kiersten Nelson – made Walker work for every point.
Junior Peyton Carter also had a career-high 14 points and had two of the biggest shots of the game – one tying the game on a driving layup with 4:16 remaining, then a 3-pointer to break a 66-66 tie with 54 seconds left. Carter and Jada Guinn combined for 13 of Tech's 24 points in the final 10 minutes.
Tech was 7-for-11 from the field and 9-for-14 at the free-throw line in the final quarter.
The five-point difference in the quarter came from the charity stripe as Samford was 4-for-8 from the line.
Samford (0-3) saw leading scorer Andrea Cournoyer score 13 points of her game-high 28 in the fourth quarter, hitting five of the Bulldogs' seven field goals. Ngulefac was the only other Samford player to score in double-figures, chipping in 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting and 7-for-12 at the line. She also ended the game with eight rebounds.
The free-throw line was not kind to the Bulldogs in the contest, hitting just 11 of their 23 shots. Long-range shots didn't want to fall for either team as both squads hit five with Tech attempting 21 and Samford 16.
The first quarter saw the Bulldogs surge forward as they hit 11 of their 19 shots. With Wheeler under the basket taking feeds, she was able to score eight early points while Cournoyer had seven. Tech only mustered 11 tries, knocking down four, but was able to hit five of its six shots from the line. By the time the quarter was over, the Golden Eagles trailed by nine.
The second quarter was all Tech as the Bulldogs mirrored the Golden Eagles' field goal shooting, going 4-for-11 as Ngulefac and Cournoyer each hit two buckets – Cournoyer's both 3-pointers – and that was it for Samford as the Golden Eagles forced seven turnovers, including steals for Maaliya Owens, Carter and Cayla Cowart.
Tech hit nine of its 14 shots and was 4-for-5 from the stripe in the second quarter, streaking to a 16-0 run and outscoring Samford 20-3 before the half came to a close – the Golden Eagles leading 38-35 after trailing by as many as 12 points.
From there, it was a battle. The third quarter saw two lead changes and four ties, then, in the fourth, there were five lead changes and seven ties.
After Cournoyer tied the game at 66 for the final time at 66, Carter nailed the 3 and Tech never looked back. Guinn's jumper made it a five-point lead with 27 seconds left. Nelson hit the back end of two free throws, then Guinn responded with two made free throws on the other end. Ngulefac hit the first and missed the second on the other end, then Carter hit the first of her two to make it a six-point, 74-68 lead.
With eight seconds remaining, Rylie Stephens hit a jumper to cut it back down to four, then Owens hit the second of her final two tosses with seven seconds left. Stephens attempted a last-ditch 3-pointer, but Guinn blocked the shot, closing out the Bulldogs' chances.
In addition to Walker's 24 and Carter's 14 points, Guinn added 12 and Owens 10 points as Tech had four double-digit scorers in the contest.
Tech returns to action on Thursday as it hosts Trevecca Nazarene in a doubleheader with the Golden Eagle men squaring off with Coppin State in the nightcap. The women tip off at 5:30 p.m.
Tickets for Thursday's game are on sale now – call (931) 372-3940, visit the Hooper Eblen Center ticket office or visit TTUsports.com to order.
Photo | Jim Dillon