NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee State men’s basketball team outscored Belmont by eight points in the second half, but still fell to the Bruins 79-65 on Saturday night in the Gentry Center.
Patrick Miller led the Tigers in scoring for the 19th time and poured in 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting. The senior also added seven rebounds and five assists.
M.J. Rhett and Kennedy Eubanks also scored in double figures for Tennessee State (2-19, 1-6 OVC) finishing with 13 and 10, respectively. The duo also had eight rebounds apiece.
TSU outrebounded Belmont (13-7, 5-1 OVC) 35 to 29, but 15 Tiger turnovers led to 24 Bruin points.
Belmont’s Drew Windler started the game by draining a pair of threes within the first minute. The strong Bruin open prompted Tennessee State head coach Travis Williams to call timeout at 19:10.
The stoppage in play did little to slow down the Bruins, as they extended their lead to 18 when J.J. Mann hit a triple with 11:50 to play before halftime. The basket made the score 25-7 and made TSU burn another timeout.
BU’s lead swelled to 21 when Craig Bradshaw hit a jumper with just over nine minutes remaining in the half, making the score 31-10.
TSU trailed, 41-19, at the break. The Tigers’ 19 was their lowest total in any half this season.
Belmont outshot TSU (53 to 32 percent) and won the battle of the boards (20 to 15) during the first 20 minutes.
Three Tigers scored points in the opening stanza while eight recorded baskets for the visitors.
For the second straight game, Tennessee State upped its intensity after heading into the locker room and started the second frame on a 20-4 run that included a strong dunk by M.J. Rhett. The string of baskets made the score 45-39.
Belmont was held without a field goal for the first seven minutes of the half and TSU outrebounded the Bruins 12-4 over the stretch.
BU eventually woke up and went back up by 13 when Nick Smith hit a three with 8:31 left.
Again, the Tigers did not back down and scored the next six points, four by Rhett. The run made the score 58-51 in favor of BU.
From that point, Belmont’s shooters got hot, draining 12-of-20 (60 percent), helping their side to a 79-65 victory.
TSU raised its field goal percentage by nearly 23 points and upped its free throw shooting from 44.4 to 87.5 percent in the second half, but the 22-point first half deficit proved too hard to overcome.
The Tigers will look to rebound when they host Eastern Kentucky on Jan. 23 at 7 p.m.
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