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Golden Eagle women fight, but EIU pulls away late

Golden Eagle women fight, but EIU pulls away late

By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – It was fitting that Reagan Hurst had a great night in front of the home crowd as she scored a season-best 19 points in her redshirt freshman campaign.

The product from nearby Upperman High shot 8-for-12 from the field along the way as the reigning OVC Freshman of the Week also had two rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block – and was also honored as the Student-Athlete of the Game during the men's half of the twinbill.

But Eastern Illinois gave a fight as the Ohio Valley Conference overall record leaders escaped the Hooper Eblen Center with a 67-62 victory on Thursday night.

Tech falls to 8-5 on the season, 2-1 in the OVC, while Eastern Illinois and Little Rock remain the only unbeaten teams in the conference with the Panthers improving to 11-3 on the season, 3-0 in league play.

Nearly every category on the stat sheet was an even split. Tech shot 44.8 percent, the Panthers 45. The Golden Eagles had 34 rebounds, EIU 32. Tech had 17 turnovers, the Panthers 15. The Golden Eagles four blocks, the Panthers 3.

Kiera Hill got her first Division I start for the Golden Eagles and the Walters State transfer held in strong, pulling down a game-best seven rebounds and besting her previous season best of six against Ball State. Hill also had four points and a steal in the contest.

In addition to Hurst's 19 points, the Golden Eagles also got double-digit production from Jada Guinn with 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Guinn needs five points to become one of an exclusive group of Golden Eagles with 750-plus career points, 500-plus career rebounds, 300-plus assists and 125-plus steals, including Tech Hall of Famers Janet Holt, Pam Chambers, Tacarra Hayes, Chris Moye and Cecilia Ramsey.

In her career so far, Guinn has 745 points, 505 rebounds, 313 assists and 142 steals.

Jordan Brock also surpassed the decade mark on scoring with 13 points, while also collecting five boards, three assists and four steals.

OVC Preseason Player of the Year Lariah Washington showed why she earned the accolade, leading all scorers with 21 points on 9-of-18 shooting and seven assists in the contest. The Panthers also had double-digit scoring from Morgan Litwiller with 15 and Miah Monahan with 14.

Eastern Illinois surged out of the game, taking an 11-4 advantage before three minutes ticked off the clock and saw the first quarter end trailing 19-13. Tech scored the first four points of the new period to cut it back within two, then one midway through the quarter after Panthers climbed back up by five.

The teams went to the locker room with EIU leading by just one point, 28-27.

Hurst had eight of her points in the second quarter as the Golden Eagles outscored the Panthers 14-9. She was 3-for-5 from the field in the second stanza.

Tech continued its progress in the third, outscoring the Panthers 21-17. The Golden Eagles took their first lead of the game with 8:21 in the third on a Guinn fast-break layup off of a Monahan turnover. Tech was able to climb out to a six-point lead with 2:32 remaining in the quarter on a Brock trey – from her eight third-quarter points – and the Golden Eagles closed the period off with a 48-45 lead.

However, the fourth quarter proved tough for Tech as EIU tied the game, then Hurst hit a layup with 6:29 remaining. Outside of a pair of Reghan Grimes free throws, it was almost four minutes later before Brock drained a 3-pointer to cut EIU's five-point advantage it gained during that drought to a 60-58 deficit with 2:39 remaining.

The downside was Monahan drained a 3-pointer on the other end of the court to get the Panthers back up by five. The closest Tech could get it was back down to three, the final time with 37 seconds left.

Monahan turned the ball over with 17 seconds left and Maaliya Owens had an opening for a potential game-tying three. Litwiller stopped the effort, deflecting the ball away with five seconds left. Two quick fouls in succession put Washington at the free-throw line where she hit both shots to ice it.

The Golden Eagles return to action on Saturday as they travel to UT Martin for a 1 p.m. contest.

Tech returns home next Thursday as it hosts Morehead State.

Tickets for Tennessee Tech basketball are on sale – call (931) 372-3940, visit the Eblen Center ticket office or visit TTUsports.com to order.

Photo | Jim Dillon

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