Tennessee Tech senior Dwan Caldwell has been oh-so-close to posting a double-double five times in his career, missing by a single point or a single rebound each time.
Not so Wednesday night.
Caldwell poured in a career-high 31 points and snatched 10 rebounds, including one of the biggest baskets of the night followed by one of the most critical boards as the Golden Eagles (4-3) claimed an 84-79 non-conference victory over Lipscomb (2-5).
The five-point victory kept the Golden Eagles unbeaten at home in four tries, and pushed Tech’s al-time record in Cookeville against Lipscomb to 22-2.
In a contest which saw each team hold double-digit leads and put together 16-2 runs, a 3-pointer by Caldwell with 1:31 to play halted a late Lipscomb rally and put Tech ahead, 80-75 after the Bisons had closed to within two.
With half-a-minute to play, and still up five, Caldwell went up to nab a defensive rebound, drew a foul and stuck both free throws for an 82-75 lead. Tech’s lead went to nine on a dunk by Javon McKay, which was enough to withstand two tip-in baskets by Lipscomb in the final 11 seconds.
Caldwell was 11-for-18 from the floor and 8-for-10 from the line, and also had three assists, two steals and a blocked shot in 34 minutes of action. It was the first 30-point game by a Golden Eagle since Jud Dillard netted 34 on Jan. 10, 2013 at Eastern Illinois.
Charles Jackson was the only other Golden Eagle to score in double figures, finishing with 10 points and four rebounds while being limited to 17 minutes on the floor. He took two quick fouls and sat out nearly the entire first half. The night put a halt to his streak of six consecutive double-doubles.
McKay finished with eight points and a team-best five assists while Shirmane Thomas added six points and four assists. Jordan Johnson also scored six, going 2-for-3 from outside the arc.
Lipscomb shot 50 percent (29-for-58) for the game including 41.7 percent (10-for-24) from long range. The Bisons had four players in double figures, led by Josh Williams with a double-double of 22 points and 10 rebounds. Brett Wishon added 14, while Malcolm Smith and Talbott Denny had 10 each. Chad Lang scored nine and Nathan Moran chipped in five points and a team-best five assists.
Tech, which owned a hefty rebound edge for the season entering the game, saw Lipscomb build a 41-30 advantage on the glass. Tech forced 21 turnovers and had just eight turnovers.
The Bisons went on their 16-2 run in the first seven minutes to build a double-digit lead at 18-8. After getting up 6-2 out of the gate, Tech missed six of its first seven 3-pointers, and Lipscomb’s long-range game came alive. The visitors hit four consecutive from the perimeter in building the 10-point advantage.
From there, Tech played from behind and kept plugging away. The Golden Eagles got within four a couple of times, only to see the Bisons answer with layups to maintain their cushion.
Finally, freshman Aleksa Jugovic hit a pair of free throws to make it a three-point difference at 34-31, then knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the contest at 34-all with 1:18 to play in the half.
The Bisons led 36-34 at the break.
Lipscomb held a five-point lead early in the second half, before Tech weaved together its own 16-2 stretch, capped by Caldwell with his sixth points of the run. Tech’s lead bobbed between six and 10 points, until Wishon’s 3-pointer with 1:49 remaining cut it to 77-75.
The Golden Eagles look to continue their unbeaten string at home when they host Hiwassee College Sunday at 2 p.m.