HONOLULU, Hawai’i – The Tennessee State men’s basketball team dropped its season-opening game at the University of Hawai’i, 85-55, on Friday night in the first day of the 49th Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic.
Senior guard Patrick Miller paced the Tigers with 15 points (6-of-14), 13 of which came in the second half.
Junior M.J. Rhett also had a good game, recording a double-double with 11 points on 3-of-8 shooting and 12 rebounds.
The game started as one of runs, as the Warriors opened to a 7-0 advantage thanks to a pair of TSU turnovers. The Tigers countered with a seven-point stretch of their own, capped off by a rim-rocking one-handed dunk by Miller. The slam tied the game at the 15:48 mark – the last time that the teams would be even.
Hawai’i scored nine straight before Rhett got TSU back on the scoreboard with a pair of freebies with just over 12 minutes to play in the half.
Rhett’s makes did little to slow down the ‘Bows as they continued their charge and even led by as many as 23 in the first half when Davis Rozitis finished from in close with just 39 seconds left to play in the opening period.
Gerald Williams gave TSU some amount of momentum heading into the locker room as the redshirt sophomore guard drove into the lane and scored, two seconds before halftime. The hoop made the first half score 41-20 with the home team on top.
The Tigers’ 20 points were the lowest for the team in any half since last year’s 18 points during the second half of a, 68-38, loss to Missouri on Dec. 8.
Rhett led the Tigers with seven points and eight rebounds during the first 20 minutes, but TSU shot just 29 percent (8-of-28) from the floor and was outrebounded 24 to 17.
Williams hit TSU’s first shot of the second stanza at 16:04 mark, but the Tigers trailed by 30 before the make and never could get back within 20.
Tennessee State did have a stretch where the team hit five straight shots, including two from Miller, but the hot streak only made the score 77-53 with five minutes to go in the game.
The Warriors ended the contest on an 8-2 run and walked away with a 30-point victory.
TSU was much better at shooting in the second half (44.8 percent), but the Tigers ended up with 14 turnovers and were outrebounded 47 to 28 in the game.
The Tigers will look to rebound and record their first win of the year tomorrow when they take on New Mexico State at 5 p.m. local time.