Dressed to the nines

Maaliya Owens scored nine points Thursday in Tennessee Tech’s win at EKU.

As second homes go, McBrayer Arena inside Alumni Colisuem was a welcoming one for Maaliya Owens during her days at Scott County High School.

SC won seven games and lost only one during Owens’ final three seasons in a career that saw her become only the fourth Lady Cardinals to exceed 2,000 points. Her teams won 11th Region championships there during both her junior and senior seasons.

It was no great surprise, then, that Owens picked up right where she left off in her college debut at McBrayer for Tennessee Tech University against Eastern Kentucky University.

Owens hit two of her first 3-point attempts in the first quarter and finished with three for nine points in the Golden Eagles’ 60-42 win to begin Ohio Valley Conference play Thursday.

In 15 minutes as one of the first players off the Tennessee Tech bench, Owens appeared in every quarter and finished 3-for-8 from the field on the evening. She attempted only one shot from inside the 3-point arc.

Last week’s OVC co-rookie of the week, Owens also pulled down three rebounds. She was part of a defensive effort that allowed the lowest point total by an opponent this season for Tennessee Tech, which is a consensus top-three pick by both coaches and media in the OVC this winter.

Kentucky high school products played pivotal roles across the board for the Golden Eagles (8-4 overall, 1-0 OVC).

Kenzie Coleman of Metcalfe County amassed 12 rebounds, eight assists and five blocked shots, while Harlan’s Jordan Brock scored nine points.

Kesha Brady led Tennessee Tech with 17 points.

“Any time you can hold a team in their house to 42 points, shooting 22 percent from the field and 24 percent from three, it’s a good night,” TTU coach Kim Rosamond said. “We had to rely on our defense tonight, because we struggled knocking down shots. 

“This was a gritty, tough win. Toughness is what wins in this league, especially when you go on the road, you have to be tough. I thought our kids showed that tonight.”

Owens, coming off 16 points in a Sunday home win over Tennessee Wesleyan, checked into the game with the Golden Eagles in front 13-4 with 2:36 remaining in the first quarter.

She wasted no time making an impact. Owens’ first 3-point bid fell shot of the mark, but the Golden Eagles extended that possession with a defensive rebound, and her second try was true.

Another deep 3-pointer from Owens capped the quarter and gave Tennessee Tech a 19-7 edge.

She was scoreless during a second-quarter stint, but Tennessee Tech held a comfortable 32-17 lead at the half.

Owens was the first Golden Eagle off the bench to celebrate Brock’s 3-pointer at the start of the second half. Her offensive rebound and assist to Brock made it a 43-25 lead with 4:30 to go in the third.

“We had a lot of people step up and make plays on both ends of the floor tonight.” Rosamond said. “EKU so far has been the most improved team in the league this season. This team has had some really big wins early, and it was big for us to get a quality road win to start conference play.”

They had no chance of snapping what is now a 23-game OVC losing streak, however. Owens helped finish those flickering upset hopes with another 3-pointer — from well beyond the arc, just as the shot clock elapsed — that increased the TTU lead to 48-25.

Owens’ seven points per game rank fifth on the team for Tennessee Tech, which continues its Kentucky swing with a game Saturday at Morehead State.

Kal Oakes can be reached via email at sports@news-graphic.com.

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