Women’s basketball loses heart breaker to Belmont

 An already tough season for the Tennessee Tech women’s basketball team added another tough chapter to it Saturday. The Golden Eagles  suffered its seventh conference loss in a two overtime loss to Belmont.

 The game was close at the very beginning. The teams were even 17-17 at the end of the first quarter.

 A troubling trend was already starting to develop for the Golden Eagles. The Bruins had a large advantage in rebounds 18-5 in the first period alone.

 The largest lead of the first half was held by Belmont 36-26 with 44 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Tech’s Hannah Goolsby hit a three-pointer as time expired to close the gap to seven.

 Samaria Howard and Yaktavia “ Shug” Hickson had six points each at the break. The Bruins were led by Jenny Roy and Darby Maggard in scoring. Both players had nine points.

 The Golden Eagles were down by as much as ten points in the third quarter , but rallied with a 15-2 run to finish the quarter. Tech entered the fourth  with a 51-48 lead.

 A three-pointer from Tech’s Hickson recaptured the lead for the Golden Eagles with 2:32 remaining. Two more lead changes occurred before Roy tied the game with a free throw with 1:21 on the clock. Two missed shots by the Golden Eagles and one from the Bruins down the stretch resulted in overtime.

 Belmont appeared to have the victory with a three-point lead and only three seconds remaining, but Samaria Howard tied the game 69-69 after sinking a three-pointer with one second remaining. A last second three by the Bruins was unsuccessful.

 In the second overtime the Golden Eagles had a two point advantage 77-75 with 53 seconds remaining. Darby connected on a three-pointer to give the Bruins a one point lead. Howard responded with a two-point jumper and another lead change with 31 seconds remaining. Belmont sealed the deal with eight seconds left when Darby Maggard made her sixth and most important three of the night giving the Bruins the 80-79 lead. Tech had one more shot from Howard, but it was a miss.

  Howard and Hickson had 20-plus points in the game. Hickson had the game high with 23.

 “ Sam, she is so aggressive and she gets to the basket. She wants the ball in her hands and she wants to score,” said Hickson about her teammate.

 Hickson’s 23 points was a career high for the sophomore.

 “ I just want to come out and give it all for my team,” said Hickson. “ They make me have open shots. We are moving without the ball and we are screening well and getting open shots. My teammates we just work well together.”

 The Golden Eagles were obliterated on the boards. The Golden Eagles had 40 rebounds compared to 62 for the Bruins including a 23-9 advantage in offensive rebounds for the Bruins.

 Tech also had problems defending the perimeter against Belmont. The Bruins were 11-of-36 from beyond the arc including six from Maggard.

  “ Tonight is really the worst we have defended the three and contested the three,” said head coach Jim  Davis.

  Davis hopes that more players , like Hickson, will step up and become consistent scorers.

  “ Sam has been averaging 20-plus points a night. People are going to start doubling her like they did tonight,” said Davis. “ We got to have other people to step up like Shug (Hickson) did. We  can’t have a one-headed beast. We got to have a team. Everyone has got to contribute.”

  Tech’s next game will be at Jacksonville State Feb. 6.