Nashville, Tenn. - Despite an icy start and a gallant effort, Tennessee State University could not emerge after suffering an early deficit in the first six minutes. The Tigers dropped their second straight, with a loss to Belmont, 60-69, at the Curb Event Center Monday night (11/30) in Nashville, Tenn.
Martell Buie led TSU in scoring with a career-high eight points, shooting 2-of-4 from the floor, all from behind the arc, and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe. Josh Sain, Jeremiah Crutcher, and Lonnie Funderburke each scored seven points. Funderburke hauled in a team-high six rebounds with Wil Peters posting a game-high, four steals, to go along with six points.
The Tigers (1-6) were unable to capitalize on spotty shooting from the Bruins. Belmont shot 48 percent from the free-throw line and 49 percent overall.
TSU shot 32 percent from the floor, 79 percent from the charity stripe, but, improved the defensive effort recording 14 steals to Belmont's eight.
In the paint, TSU scored 24 points, including 22 second-chance points, but lost the battle of the boards, 42-41. The Bruins (4-2) uncharacteristically struggled from behind the arc, shooting 25 percent, however, used clutch inside shooting scoring 38 points in the middle.
The Tigers' bench outscored Belmont's reserves, 33-26, but could not take the lead after several surges. In the first half, TSU trailed 15-0 to open the game. Coming out of a timeout, the Tigers regrouped and powered an 11-0 run to come within four, 15-11. TSU battled under a Bruin 17-15 run holding Belmont to 10 percent shooting from long range to narrow the lead at the break, 32-27.
After the break, TSU would only come close to seven points of the lead (40-33) after four minutes of play. Belmont opened up for their second largest of the night, leading by 14 with 5:12 remaining. TSU's attempts to chip away at the lead fell short after going over the foul limit. Belmont was able to seal the win at the foul line hitting free throws in six opportunities under a minute left in the game.
Belmont's Kerron Johnson scored a game-high 14 points and five assists. Scott Saunders scored 13 points and Jon House posted 11 points and seven rebounds. Despite being held under his season average, Mick Hedgepeth hauled in a game-high 10 rebounds with eight points.
Next, the Tigers will open OVC play when they host Eastern Illinois at the Gentry Center on Thursday, December 3, at 7:30 p.m.