NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee State erased a double-digit second half lead and hit some key free throws in the final minute to take down Eastern Kentucky 69-66 on "Senior Night" at the Gentry Center Saturday night.
The Lady Tigers (13-14, 9-7 OVC) trailed by as many as 14 points (49-35) with just over 16 minutes remaining. A pair of Kesi Hess free throws with 16:12 left was the beginning of a 34-17 TSU run to close the ball game.
Hess and Simone Hopes led the Big Blue with 18 points each with fellow senior Jasmin Shuler pitching in 15. Hopes added 10 rebounds for her second straight double-double, while point guard Rachel Allen set a career-high with 10 boards of her own.
Despite making only one field goal over the final 5:20, TSU tied the game at 62 after Shuler hit three free throws after getting fouled with 52 seconds left. Allen would step to the line and make one-of-two to gain a one point edge. After a traveling violation on Pilar Walker of EKU (17-10, 11-5 OVC) gave TSU the ball, Hess hit a pair of free throws to give the Lady Tigers the final three point margin.
TSU turned things around offensively and defensively after trailing 40-29 at the half. EKU was limited to 27 percent shooting in the second half compared to 43 percent in the first half. The Lady Colonels also cooled down from distance as 10 of their 11 three pointers came in the first 20 minutes. Guard Marie Carpenter led EKU with 26 points, three off her career-high, but only four came in the second half. The junior from Nashville was 6-of-7 from three in the first half.
On offense, TSU shot 50 percent in the second half compared to only 32 percent in the first. Free throws were a huge factor as well, as the Lady Tigers connected on 16-of-21 from the line in the second half.
The Lady Colonels were careless with the ball as TSU forced 25 turnovers, which turned into 31 points.
Eastern Kentucky had won the last five meeting vs. Tennessee State
TSU will next play on Wednesday, March 6 at 2 p.m. vs. SIU-Edwardsville (15-13, 9-7 OVC) in the first round of the OVC Tournament at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium. SIUE defeated TSU 75-69 on Feb. 25 at
Edwardsville, Ill., in the only meeting between the two teams this season.