Tennessee St. 66
The Colonels beat Tennessee State University in a close match up Wednesday, Feb. 3, defeating the Tigers 70-66 in Nashville thanks to great shooting from junior Jalen O’Bannon, senior Shameekia Murray, and freshman Abby Wright. The trio combined for a total of 51 points.
Eastern (12-10, 6-5 OVC) and Tennessee St. (10-14, 5-6 OVC) were evenly matched at the outset, with both teams making defensive plays that shifted the momentum. Colonel Michaela Hunter stole the ball from the Tigers, and Tennessee State responded with two steals and a block.
Despite trailing the whole game, Eastern was able to fight back at the 1:50 mark in the fourth quarter with a lay-up by Hunter, who then scored a foul shot to take the lead. The gap increased thanks to more free throw shooting from O’Bannon and junior Zee Willix. O’Bannon would end the night with seven total points from the foul line.
Besides leading the team in free throws, O’Bannon led the Colonels with 25 points and 12 defensive rebounds.
Murray ended the night with 14 points and Wright added 12 points, keeping Eastern in the game despite being down until the fourth. The Tigers led by 10 three separate times, but the Colonels fought back and closed the gap each time. The game ended with a 23-9 run by the Eastern.
The Colonels are among the top teams in the conference. Four teams are ahead, including its next opponent, Belmont.
Saturday night, Eastern fell to Belmont in Nashville. Belmont, the third winningest team in the OVC, dominated from the free-throw line and in rebounds, despite the best efforts of O’Bannon and junior Mariah Massengill.
The Bruins had won seven straight in conference play before facing the Colonels.
The game went back and forth offensively during the first half, but the Bruins found its rhythm coming out of halftime. Belmont jumped ahead to an 18 point lead with 2:41 left in the third quarter.
Missed field goals plagued both teams, but due to rebounds and turnovers, Belmont was able to take advantage of second-chance opportunities while preventing the Colonels from doing so.
Belmont led in turnovers 16 to 14, but despite Eastern leading in steals 7 to 5, the Colonels couldn’t grab as many rebounds. The Bruins collected 16 offensive boards and 33 defensive boards, while Eastern only grabbed 6 offensive rebounds and 29 defensive rebounds.
Both teams struggled with shooting. The Colonels ended the match 21 for 60 and the Bruins 22 for 62. The game was decided by Belmont’s free-throws, making 22 of 31 attempts. The Colonels made 15 of its 17 tries, but its excellent free throw shooting couldn’t compete with the amount of attempts the Bruins had.
Massengill ended the night with 11 points and 2 rebounds. Wright had three rebounds and nine points, and O’Bannon had 19 points and 10 of the team’s rebounds. Murray and both had six defensive rebounds.
The Colonels’ next contest is at 4 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 13, in Richmond, as Eastern looks to improve its record against Tennessee State.