An early 10-0 deficit haunted Tennessee Tech all night long Monday and the Golden Eagles never quite caught up, falling to Eastern Kentucky, 74-70, in a pivotal Ohio Valley Conference East Division game in Eblen Center.
Eastern Kentucky (14-9/8-4 OVC) had four players in double figures, topped by Marie Carpenter’s 25. She had 19 of those in the first half as the Lady Colonels played much of the period with a double-figure lead. Carpenter was 6-of-9 from long range.
Pilar Walker added 11 points, nine assists, five rebounds and three blocked shots as EKU won for the first time in the last 10 visits in Eblen Center. Miranda Maples also scored 11 and Michaela Hunter added 10.
Junior Diamond Henderson was top high scorer in the contest with 28 to pace Tech (10-16/7-6 OVC), pushing her career total past the 1,000-point mark in the first half. She finished the night with 1,018 points in becoming the 27th player in Tech history to join the 1,000-Point Club.
Freshman Hannah Goolsby added 16 points and Candace Parson scored 14. Kayla Brewer hauled down a career-high 16 rebounds and blocked four shots.
After EKU blistered the nets in the first half, the Golden Eagles slowed down the visitors in the second half, allowing just 32.3 percent accuracy. The defensive effort helped Tech pull back into contention, getting the difference down to three twice in the final four minutes.
Henderson’s final points of the night, a 3-pointer with 31 seconds left, cut the EKU lead to 71-68. Forced to foul, Tech watched as Hunter hit two free throws to push the lead to five. Following a Tech turnover, Carpenter added one free throw for a 74-68 lead with 20 seconds to play.
Parson scored a layup with 11 seconds left, but Tech never got the ball back after that.
EKU had the range from the opening tip and raced out to a quick 10-0 lead when Carpenter hit a jumper with 16:15 to play. The Lady Colonels went up by as many as 13 points on two occasions, the last coming at the 11:12 mark on two free throws by Carpenter.
Tech continued to search for ways to slice into the EKU lead, and eventually pulled within five points, 28-23, on a layup by Henderson with 5:53 to go.
A layup by Drake with 20 seconds to play sent the Lady Colonels into the break with a 40-30 lead. The Colonels connected on 59.1 percent (13-for-22) from the field. Tech shot 34.5 percent (10-for-29) from long range.
Tech has a week to prepare for its next action, when the Golden Eagles will welcome Southeast Missouri into Eblen Center on Monday (Feb. 24) for a 7 p.m. contest. It’s the final home game of the regular season.