The Tennessee Tech women’s basketball team increased its losing streak to six games after a 59-53 decision at Belmont last Saturday in Nashville. Despite overcoming an 18-point deficit and creating a late run in the second half, the Bruins snatched any comeback hopes from the away team as the Golden Eagles couldn’t seem to win the battle in the paint.
“Bottom line is, we didn’t play very well as a team,” said Tech women’s Head Coach Jim Davis. “For us to succeed, everyone has to do their job and accept their responsibility. We only had six assists. That’s an indication that we didn’t play as a team. Passing is a forgotten fundamental, I guess. Everyone wants to play one-on-one and do their thing. For us to succeed, we have to pass the basketball.”
If a lack of passing the ball tells the story of Saturday evening’s road loss, the team’s inability to hit baskets and crash boards certainly helps. The Golden Eagles finished the night shooting just 20-of-59 (33.9 percent) from the floor. While the Bruins at 22-of-58 (37.9 percent) didn’t shoot much better, they created extra opportunities for points by dominating the boards. The hosts’ out-rebounded Tech 45-34.
Junior guard Samaria Howard led the Golden Eagles in scoring with 17 points, with senior Candace Parson also in double-digits at 10. Tech freshman Yaktavia Hickson finished with a perfect night from the floor shooting 3-of-3 from the field, including 2-of-2 from three-point range. The loss was Hickson’s fourth multi-3 performance on the year.
At 15 points each, Frankie Joubran and Sally McCabe topped the Bruins in scoring. Joubran also led Belmont (8-14, 5-4 OVC) with 11 rebounds.
The close finish was not the first of its kind for the Tech women’s team. In fact, the team has grown accustomed to such narrow defeat. In their previous six losses, the Golden Eagles have been within six points of either victory or overtime in four of them: A 68-66 overtime defeat at SEMO (Jan. 17), a 67-64 loss at TSU (Jan. 21), a 97-93 double-overtime loss against EKU and by six in its most recent loss at Belmont.
“We’re going to have to stop digging holes for ourselves,” said Davis. “We need to learn how to get ahead and play ahead. We’ve been playing catch-up all year long. The difference is just one play. In games like that, any one player that steps up in crunch time could mean the difference in winning or losing. I don’t want to say that we haven’t had a player step up and make a play in crunch time, though. I think we have players that are capable, we just haven’t gotten it done.”
At 5-18, 2-8 OVC, the Golden Eagles are now forced to make a strong push in their final six matchups to keep any hope of OVC tournament play alive. While his team has its odds stacked against them, Davis says he doesn’t feel his team’s record reflects its potential.
“I don’t think there’s any question that our team is better than what our record shows,” said Davis. “But if you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig. Our record is what it is. We can’t sugarcoat it. We’ve had the chances to win them, we just haven’t done it.”
Davis and the Golden Eagles move on as they prepare for the OVC’s No. 1 scoring defense, Jacksonville State (15-7, 6-4 OVC). For Tech to have any shot at snapping its current six-game losing streak, it will need to size up and out-rebound the Gamecocks, who at .724 lead the OVC in defensive rebounding percent.
SU will travel to Cookeville to take on the Golden Eagles Saturday for a 5:30 p.m. tip at the Hooper Eblen Center.