Nashville, Tenn. - The Tennessee State men's basketball team couldn't quite overcome a 20-point second half deficit and dropped its second-straight game to Morehead State, 101-100.
After going down by 20 with just seven minutes to go in the game, the Tigers clawed back with a 16-2, three-minute run that featured two three-pointers and a break-away, two-handed dunk by Robert Covington. TSU (16-13, 10-5 OVC) made all five of its shots and all four of its free throws during the stretch, but the score was still 89-83 in favor of the visitors.
Covington finished the game with 23 points on 7-of-15 shooting including a 4-of-6 mark from downtown. The senior also had a team-high eight boards.
A pair of free throws by Patrick Miller at the 1:43 mark cut the Eagle lead to four and a triple by Kellen Thornton with 54 seconds to go put TSU behind by just three.
Thornton ended up with a career-high 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting and four rebounds.
On Morehead's next possession, the Eagles drained the shot clock to one before throwing up a desperation three. The shot bounced off the rim and was recovered by the Morehead State (14-16, 8-7 OVC) with 15 seconds left. The Tigers wisely didn't foul and wrapped up the ball handler for a jump ball- and they had the possession arrow.
After a TSU timeout, Miller got a good look at a tying three-pointer, but his shot was strong. Covington tipped in the ball before the final horn, but it wasn't enough.
Miller finished the game with 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting and five assists.
The Eagles came out strong to start the game, and quickly went up 11-2 when Chavis Milton nailed Morehead State's second three-pointer during the game's first four minutes. The wave of points caused TSU head coach Travis Williams to burn an early timeout.
Whatever Williams said in the huddle seemed to work as TSU tied the score at 13 when Covington, Miller and Tashan Fredrick each connected from downtown.
The score didn't remain tied for long, as Morehead State eventually raised its lead back to seven when Angelo Warner scored three consecutive points. On TSU's next possession, M.J. Rhett found Michael Green for an alley-oop dunk, making the score 30-25 with just under eight minutes to play in the first half.
TSU tried to pull even by getting to the charity stripe, but whenever the Tigers would get close, Morehead would nail a three. The Eagles had four triples in the span of three minutes and finished the frame 9-of-15 from downtown.
Covington made 1-of-2 free throws with 0.2 seconds left in the first half, but TSU went into the locker room trailing, 51-43.
The Eagles' 51 first-period points were the most given up by TSU in any half this season and they did it by shooting 60.6 percent from the field (20-of-33).
TSU made 12-of-33 shots during the first 20 minutes for a 36.4 line. The Tigers were 16-of-19 from the charity strip during the first half for an 84.2 conversion rate.
Much like the first half, Morehead State went on a run to start period number two; this one was 7-2 in favor of the Eagles. Thornton finally ended the streak with a three at the 16:51 mark, but Devon Atkinson responded with a three of his own to put the Tigers behind, 63-50.
Later in the half, Morehead State got ahead by 19 thanks to an 8-0 run that featured two threes and a tip-slam. Covington and Thornton nailed threes on back-to-back possessions after the dunk, but TSU was still down, 73-58, with 13 minutes to go.
The Eagles continued their assault and went up by 20 when Angelo Warner made Morehead State's 15th three-pointer of the game with over seven minutes to play.
Warner's hoop set up the exciting, but heart-wrenching finish.
Tennessee State's 100 points were its most in a regulation game since defeating Miles College, 109-92, in 2008, but its 101 points allowed were the most given up at home since losing to Eastern Kentucky, 109-83, in 2003.
Tennessee State shot 46.2 percent from the field (30-of-65), but Morehead State made 37-of-60 for a 67.1 mark.
TSU will look to win its 11th home contest of the season on Saturday against Eastern Kentucky. The game starts at 7:30 p.m. and will be the final home contest for Covington, Cyphers, Fredrick and Thornton.
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