CM grad Allie Troeckler goes in for a basket for SIUE. Troeckler had a big game with 16 points on Saturday. (Photos by Scott Kane)

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EDWARDSVILLE – In a game in which neither team led by more than five points, Tennessee Tech edged SIUE women's basketball 68-64 Saturday at First Community Arena.

Jada Guinn and Anna Jones hit free throws to seal the game late for the Golden Eagles, which improved to 16-8 overall and 11-3 in the Ohio Valley Conference.

SIUE dropped to 9-16 overall and 5-9 in the OVC.

"I'm proud of our group today," said SIUE Head Coach Samantha Quigley Smith. "We fought against one of the best teams in the league and put ourselves in position to steal one against a higher-ranked team in the league. That's a team that is going to compete for an NCAA Tournament bid."

Gabby Nikitinaite led the Cougars with 17 points. Allie Troeckler pumped in 16, and Mikayla Kinnard finished with 14.

Kinnard left the game with increased confidence.

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"It showed that as a team we could compete with anybody in our league," she said. "From start to finish we played a really good game. We just have to key into a few details and then the outcome of the game would be completely different."

The Cougars used its defensive ability to keep the game in check, outscoring Tennessee Tech 20-0 with points off turnovers.

"I thought we did a great job defensively," added Smith.

But the difference would be TTU's trips to the free-throw line, hitting 16 of 30 shots while SIUE was 5 of 9 from the charity stripe. Tennessee Tech shot 24 of 50 (48 percent) from the field while SIUE hit 28 of 67 shots from the field (41.8 percent).

Jones powered the Golden Eagles with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Anna Walker added 13 rebounds off the bench as Tennessee Tech outrebounded the Cougars 45-28.

The Cougars also minimized turnovers with a season-low 11 giveaways.

"That was a great jump in growth, maturity and understanding what's important on the offensive end." said Smith.

SIUE has two weeks left in the regular season. The Cougars travel to Nashville, Tennessee, next week to take on Tennessee State on Thursday and Belmont Saturday.

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