Saturday, Feb. 13, Tennessee Tech’s men’s and women’s basketball teams clashed with conference foe Jacksonville State. Both teams achieved victories against the Gamecocks, and the women’s program reached a milestone.
It took overtime for the women to secure its win over the Gamecocks, 51-49, but only regulation to break the school record for blocks in a game with 13.
It was a slow start for both teams offensively. At the end of the first half, Tech was shooting a mere 16 percent from the field. However, the Gamecocks could not get a clear advantage. They went 5-30 shooting from the field at the halfway marker as well.
“We did a good job coming off of the screens and breaking them down [in the second half]…when you’re shooting layups it helps your field goal percentage generally,” said women’s Head Coach Jim Davis.
Increasing their FG% in the second half to 41.7 percent going 10-24 from the field, each of those layups turned out to be crucial for the Golden Eagles to secure the win in OT.
Mariah Dean, senior center, posted a double-double in the game, pulling 16 rebounds and posting 10 points.
“My coach is always getting on me saying the starting center should average at least 6-8 rebounds a game, so I’m trying to get my numbers up. And I mean they can’t stop me, only I stop me,” said Dean.
“Mariah had a big, big game for us; came out and played well. Sixteen rebounds, that’s huge,” said Davis.
Dean also blocked five shots against the Gamecocks helping her team reach a school record high of 13 blocks in a single game.
The men’s contest with the Gamecocks got off to a quicker start; however, the ending was just as dramatic.
The Golden Eagles held an early 12-2 lead in the first four minutes of the game. Anthony Morse, senior forward, pounded the ball in the paint while Hakeem Rogers, junior guard, hit two shots from beyond the arc to combine for the early 12 points.
Despite Tech jumping out to an early lead, they only had a two-point advantage going into the locker room at halftime.
“We let them come back into the game, which we shouldn’t have done, but it happens and we just pulled out the win,” said Rogers.
Tech led for the majority of the game, but they could never seem to gain a clear advantage. The game was tied as Tech’s Torrance Rowe, senior guard, pushed the ball up the court with only seconds remaining. As Rowe rose up for what seemed to be the final shot of regulation, he was fouled by the Gamecocks to send him to the free-throw line for three shots with 0.7 seconds remaining in the game.
Rowe made 2 of the 3 free-throws. All Jacksonville State could do at this point was throw up a desperation shot as time expired. Tech secured the win.
“We were fortunate to win, but we did win, we did find a way to win. If you’re going to win a conference championship, that’s what you have to do,” said men’s head coach Steve Payne.
As Tech battles for first place in the OVC east with Belmont, pulling out narrow victories is vital for the men’s program.
Saturday was also Tech’s annual “Think Pink” game in support of breast cancer awareness.
“I love our fans. They are coming out every night and just keep bringing the momentum for us. We’re just playing and running off of they’re momentum,” said Rogers.
The victory also gave the men’s program a perfect 13-0 in the Eblen Center this season.
The men’s next game will be Saturday, Feb. 20, when they travel to conference rival Belmont, and the women’s next outing will be Wednesday, Feb. 17, when they host Morehead State.