The Tennessee Tech women’s basketball team fell short to Austin Peay State University in Clarksville on Tuesday night by a score of 79-61. The loss put an abrupt halt to the Ohio Valley Conference tournament dreams of the Golden Eagles (14-16, 8-10 OVC). This is the first time the Golden Eagles have played the Lady Govs in the OVC tournament since 2001-02 when APSU narrowly won with a final score of 85-83.
“Austin Peay showed why they were the defending champions,” Head Coach Sytia Messer said. “They really want to defend their title.”
Tech trailed from the beginning and could not overcome a 13-point deficit at the half. A three-point play by freshman Kellie Cook with just over 11 minutes remaining cut the lead to 12, but that’s as close as Tech could get.
The Golden Eagles were led by Cook with 18 points while sophomores Tacarra Hayes and Krystal Stirrup contributed 13 and 12 points, respectively. Hayes, who ranked second in the conference in scoring coming into the game, also tacked on eight assists.
A win was still in sight until the Govs increased their lead to 70-55 with six minutes left in the game.
Tech had to overcome being the youngest basketball team in the nation with five sophomores and six freshmen.
“We adapted well and overachieved some people’s expectations, but not our own,” Messer, in her first year at Tech, said.
Tech was selected in the preseason to finish eighth, but pulled out a sixth-place finish.
The Golden Eagles finished the season with an overall record of 14-16, the best since the 2005-06 season. They had an overall 8-10 record in OVC play.
“We let four or five games slip away that we should have won,” Messer said.
After starting the season with a loss to Alabama, Tech rebounded with an 81-49 win over Air Force and that was all the motivation it needed. Tech dominated in Cookeville earning an 11-3 record at the Hooper Eblen Center.
The Golden Eagles faced ranked teams, #8 Baylor and # 23 Louisville, as well as many other fierce opponents, all while battling inexperience and youth.
“No other freshman class in the country played as much as ours,” Messer said.
The future for Tech women’s basketball looks bright with a stellar recruiting class being molded by Messer and her staff.
“I’m looking forward to our players having more experience with a year under their belts,” Messer said.
Tacarra Hayes was named first-team All-OVC while Kellie Cook took home All-Newcomer honors.