EIU Loses First Half Lead, Game to Tennessee Tech


Published on January 2 2016 10:36 am
Last Updated on January 2 2016 10:36 am
Written by Greg Sapp

Eastern Illinois women's basketball led by as much as 13 points in the first half, but Tennessee Tech rallies late to give the Panthers an 81-74 loss Thursday in their OVC opener. The loss drops the Panthers to 1-12 on the season and 0-1 in the OVC while Tennessee Tech improves to 5-9 and 1-0 in the OVC.

Grace Lennox was all over the court as she played all 40 minutes of the game and led all Panthers with 18 points, seven assists, and three steals. The Panthers had five players score in double figures marking only the second time this season that EIU has accomplished such a feat. The previous time came against IUPUI in the season opener.

The Panthers raced out of the gates on an 8-0 run to build an early lead against TTU. The Golden Eagles' Samaria Howard stopped the Panther scoring with TTU's first bucket of the game at the 6:10 mark in the first period.

Lennox pushed EIU to their largest lead of the game following a jumper at the 4:00 mark to give the Panthers a 19-6 lead. EIU held the double digit lead throughout the majority of the first quarter until a layup from TTU's Yaktavia Hickson at the 1:59 mark started a 5-1 run to close out the first quarter and cut into the Panther lead. Hickson scored 12 points in the first half for TTU finishing the game with 19.

Phylicia Johnson scored eight points in the first quarter as she earned her first start of the season against the Golden Eagles. Johnson finished the game tying her career high with 14 points.

EIU shot 71.4 percent from the field in the first period to earn a 24-15 lead over the Golden Eagles.

The second period was back-and-forth as Tennessee Tech slowly cut into EIU's lead. Shakita Cox scored five points in the second quarter as a solid all-around performance from the Panthers saw three players in double digits at the end of the first half.

TTU closed the gap thanks to Mariah Dean who scored eight points while going a perfect 5-of-5 in the first half. Dean finished the game with 15 points. The Golden Eagles' Lindsey Jennings sank two free throws with three seconds left in the half to cut EIU's lead to three points.

The Golden Eagles shot 69 percent in the second quarter as EIU went into halftime up 44-41.

The third quarter was a tight contest between the two teams as the lead changed four times throughout the period.

Tennessee Tech earned their first lead of the game as Hannah Goolsby made three points the hard way after a foul by Alece Shumpert to put TTU up 49-48 with 4:56 left in the third quarter. Shumpert would immediately make up for the foul by draining a three-pointer on the next possession to regain the EIU lead 51-49. Shumpert finished the game with 10 points.

Johnson scored a layup with 10 seconds left in the quarter to give the Panthers a slim 57-56 lead going into the final quarter.

Tennessee Tech rallied in the fourth quarter as Pre-Season All-OVC Team selection Howard started to heat up. Hickson sank a three-pointer at the 5:46 mark to begin an 11-1 run for the Golden Eagles as Howard scored the next eight points for TTU to give Tennessee Tech a 71-66 lead with 3:30 left to play.

Lennox broke the run with a three-point shot to cut the lead to two points, but that would be as close as EIU would get the rest of the game. TTU's Howard scored 13 points in the final period as she finished the game leading all scorers with 22 points.

Both EIU's leading scorers Cox and Erica Brown fouled out in the final period. Cox finished the game with 13 points scoring in double figures in four of the last five games while Brown earned eight points and nine rebounds.

Tennessee Tech's free throw shooting kept the Panthers at bay as EIU's shooting went cold. Final free throws from TTU's Hickson pushed the game to its final score of 81-74 as the Golden Eagles came away with the win.Halle Still also earned double figures for the Panthers finishing the game with 10 points.

EIU continues OVC play traveling to Jacksonville State to take on the Gamecocks Saturday at 2 p.m.