NASHVILLE, TENN. - Tennessee State dropped its Ohio Valley Conference opener to Eastern Illinois 76-67 in women's basketball action Saturday night at the Gentry Center
Kesi Hess had a season-high 19 points on five-of-seven shooting from three, but it wasn't enough as EIU (5-6, 1-0 OVC) shot 58 percent from the field.
The first half saw nine ties and nine lead changes with neither team holding more than a three point advantage. Ultimately, the Lady Tigers (4-7, 0-1 OVC) held a 33-30 halftime edge, including 19 points from the bench. All 10 of Destiney Gaston's points came in 10 minutes of first half play off the bench.
Despite getting outshot by the Panthers by seven percent in the first 20 minutes, TSU attempted 11 more shots and made three more than EIU.
TSU's largest lead of the contest was five in the opening minute of the second half when Avery Jones connected on a pair of free throws.
The Lady Tigers held the lead for most of the first 10 minutes of the second half until Katlyn Payne hit one of her four three-pointers with 12:55 remaining. It was the early stages of an EIU 31-18 run that would close out the game. The Panthers would not trail again.
A three from freshman Brianna Lawrence pulled TSU even at 52 with 11 minutes left. It was the 12th and final tie of the ball game. From that point on, TSU made only five shots the rest of the way, including three from Simone Hopes, while EIU hit 11 of their last 15 shots. Hopes was one of three Lady Tigers in double figures with 13 points.
EIU's Ta'Kenya Nixon led all players with 21 points and eight assists.
It is the 14th straight win for the Panthers over the Lady Tigers. EIU holds a series edge of 27-10.
TSU plays at #14 Louisville (11-2) on Monday at 6 p.m.