Missoula, Mont. --- The Tennessee State University women's basketball team shook off a sluggish start and battled from behind to defeat the University of Idaho, 69-64, in Dahlberg Arena at the 32 annual Lady Griz Classic Friday night.
TSU (3-3) trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half before outscoring Idaho, 43-34, in the second stanza. The Lady Tigers forced the WAC opponent into 14 turnovers and held them to 26.9 percent from three-point range, a team that usually shoots over 40 percent from beyond the arc.
Simone Hopes led the Lady Tigers and recorded her second career double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Kesi Hess also registered a double-double, the first of her career, with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Jasmin Shuler added 14 points and six rebounds.
The start for Tennessee State was sluggish, as Idaho scored nine unanswered points to capture an early, 9-0, lead. TSU had only made 3-of-17 from the field through the first eight minutes while the opponent was shooting 50 percent from the floor.
The Vandals increased their advantage to, 19-5, before back-to-back buckets from Simone Hopes pulled TSU to within 10.
Idaho maintained at least a nine-point lead for most of the first half but the TSU defense picked up and the Lady Tigers used a 7-0 run, during the last three minutes, to cut the deficit down to four.
TSU trailed, 30-26, at halftime.
With about five minutes ticked off the clock in the second frame, TSU closed within two behind a three-pointer by Chelsea Hudson. The Vandals, however, answered with consecutive triples and a break-away lay-up to go back up by double-digits.
Another Hopes' bucket pulled the Lady Tigers even, 53-53 with 6:39 remaining. On the next play, Jasmin Shuler capped a 19-7 run that put TSU on top, 55-53.
With 2:52 remaining, the Lady Tigers managed to build their advantage up to, 66-60, but the Vandals responded with four straight to pull within two.
Idaho had possession with 31.4 seconds left in the game when TSU forced a turnover and got the ball back. Idaho was forced to foul and put Destiney Gaston on the line.
Gaston made the front-end of a 1-and-1 but missed the second to make the score, 67-64, in favor of TSU with 20.7 seconds remaining.
On the Vandals' next possession they attempted two three-pointers but came up empty on them both.
After being fouled, Kesi Hess stepped up to the line and knocked down two free-throws to ice the game.
The Lady Tigers return to action tomorrow against host Montana at 7 p.m. MT to conclude the Lady Griz Classic. The contest can be watched live on the Big Sky Network.