EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Tennessee Tech held off SIUE Thursday, defeating the Cougars 68-67 in Ohio Valley Conference men's basketball at Vadalabene Center.
David McFarland had a long three-point attempt at the buzzer hit the front rim but missed, leaving the Cougars one point short.
"This team is really growing up and I commend them for that," SIUE Head Coach Jon Harris said. "We have put together great defensive efforts two games in a row now. This is probably our best defensive game of the year, and it put us in position to win the game late."
SIUE has dropped five in a row and fell to 7-15 overall and 3-8 in the OVC. Tennessee Tech improved to 16-8 and 8-3.
Trailing by as many as 14 points in the second half, and by 10 points with just 5:33 to play, SIUE used defensive pressure and five Tennessee Tech turnovers to work its way back into the game.
"Our intensity and aggression was great on defense tonight," Harris said. "It hasn't always been there for us. Our guys were locked in and they covered for each other well."
Kajon Mack put TTU up three (68-65) with a pair of free throws with 13 seconds left. Christian Ellis brought the ball in to the front court, where the Golden Eagles elected to foul instead allowing SIUE the chance to tie the game with a three-pointer. Ellis knocked down both free throws to make it 68-67.
Cade Crosland missed a pair of free throws for Tennessee Tech and after a scuffle for the rebound, the ball was knocked out of play with inside of two seconds left. Justin Benton inbounded the ball for SIUE to McFarland for the final try.
McFarland collected his first career double-double with 13 point and a career-high 12 rebounds. Ellis led the way with a team-high 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting.
"David and Christian are playing hungry," Harris added. "Christian made two big free throws late and David hit some big shots."
"Daniel hasn't been shooting the ball well but he's doing some good things for us, like his seven assists," Harris said. "He's guarding better, but he just needs to get more consistent on offense."
Mack led thre TTU players in double figures. He scored 18 and was 6-6 at the free throw line. Shaq Calhoun picked a double-double of his own with 16 point and 11 rebounds. Mason Ramsey added 11 points for the Golden Eagles.
SIUE plays the second of four consecutive home games Saturday when Jacksonville State comes to Edwardsville for a 1 p.m. contest.
"We'll have to bring that defensive effort," Harris said of Saturday's matchup. "(Jacksonville State) is a very good team who can hurt you in a lot of ways. They're athletic and rebound very well."