Nashville --- Senior Meredith Stafford played her final game in the Gentry Center as the Lady Tigers suffered a disappointing, 69-54, loss to Eastern Illinois Saturday night.
Avery Jones had a career night and TSU led at halftime but it wasn't enough as the Lady Tigers (9-20, 5-13 OVC) were outscored, 45-29, in the second half by the Panthers (18-11, 13-5 OVC).
Mariah King led EIU with 18 points while Ta'Kenya Nixon added 15. Hilary Held (13) and Sydney Mitchell (11) also posted double-digits for the Panthers.
It was a defensive battle in the beginning as both teams combined for only four field goals in the first 8:35 of the game. TSU was trailing, 8-5, when back-to-back jumpers from Avery Jones put the Lady Tigers on top, 9-8 (9:37).
EIU used a 6-2 spurt to knot the game at 18-all before stretching the advantage to, 24-20, with 2:17 left in the half.
The Lady Tigers reclaimed the lead just before the half ended with a three-pointer from Kesi Hess and a couple free-throws by Avery Jones to make the score, 25-24.
The second half was a battle from the onset with the score wavering back and forth. A three-point basket gave EIU a 37-34 lead just before the first media timeout.
The Panthers increased the advantage to, 39-34, on the next play but Avery Jones answered with another jumper to pull the Lady Tigers to within three.
Over the next five minutes, EIU outscored TSU, 12-5, to capture the biggest lead of the night by either team, 51-44. The Panthers used a three-pointer to stretch the advantage to, 54-44, with 6:09 remaining.
Denisha Mumford answered with a triple on TSU's trip down the floor but EIU scored six straight points to go ahead, 60-47 (3:40).
TSU fell behind, 62-47, before and old-fashioned three-point play by Stafford and a long-jumper from Morris brought the Lady Tigers to within 10 with 2:43 left.
The Lady Tigers, however, were not able to overcome the deficit as the Panthers outscored TSU, 7-2, to make the final score, 69-54.
Tennessee State shot 30.6 percent (19-of-62) from the field, including 13.0 percent from three-point range (3-of-23). Eastern Illinois finished the game shooting 45.3 percent (29-of-64) from the field and 16.7 percent from beyond the arc (2-of-12).
TSU held the edge in rebounds, 44-41, but EIU dominated points in the paint, 38-18.
The Lady Tigers return to action next Wednesday in the first round of the OVC tournament. Seventh seeded TSU will face #6 Jacksonville State at 2 p.m. at the Municipal Auditorium.