Richmond, Ky. - Tennessee State roared back in the second half, but the comeback fell short as Eastern Kentucky defeated the Tigers 73-68 at the Paul S. McBrayer Arena on Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers (8-7, 1-1 Ohio Valley) cut a 26 point deficit in the second half to just four points with 38 seconds left, but it was too late as Eastern Kentucky (9-6, 3-0 OVC) secured their fourth straight victory over TSU in Richmond.
EKU shot 53 percent (25-of-47) for the game, holding the Tigers to 37 percent (25-of-67) from the field. In the second half, TSU made 10-of-21 attempts for 54 percent. The Tigers out-manned the Colonels on the boards, 36-to-33. The loss snapped a five-game win streak for the Big Blue.
Tennessee State used the combination of Wil Peters, Robert Covington and Patrick Miller to cut the 26 point deficit to single digits.
Once again Covington led the Tigers with 18 points and 10 boards, managing his 15th career double-double. The junior hit two treys and grabbed six offensive boards off the glass in 31 minutes.
Miller picked up double-digits with 15 points and three assists. Miller was 6-of-13 from the field in a game-high 37 minutes played.
Leading the team in assists and steals, Peters dished out four rocks and stole three passes. He finished the afternoon with 10 points. Peters knocked down two crucial triples in the second half, making him just eight away from reaching TSU's all-time top-10 list.
In 16 minutes played, senior Kenny Moore reeled in five boards and added three points.
Eastern Kentucky used a strong run to take a 41-17 lead at halftime. EKU shot 58 percent (15-of-26) from the field, while Tennessee State was held to just 19 percent (6-of-32) in the first period. Patrick Miller led the Tigers with 5 points as EKU's D' Mitri Riggs had 11 points.
EKU took the early 11-8 advantage after knocking down three triples in the first five minutes. From there, the Colonels proceeded on a 22-5 run, taking the 23-10 lead with 11:01 remaining in the half. Miller's layup at 9:11 snapped a near five minute drought for the Tigers.
Tennessee State couldn't find any rhythm as the Colonels stretched their lead to 24 at the break.
The Tigers added a triple from Kharon Butcher and two baskets from Covington to pull within 19 with 10:19 left in the game. Butcher finished with a season-high two made three-pointers.
TSU started a 9-0 run to pull within 11 with 7:59 on the clock. However, EKU added some breathing room to extend their advantage to 14 under five minutes.
Peters triple at 2:21 broke the Colonels lead to single digits (nine) with 2:21 left. Moore made a rebound layup with 1:28 left to put the Tigers within six (64-58).
The senior Peters once again stepped up knocking down his second triple in the game to help the Tigers reach within five, 69-65, with 42.9 seconds left.
The Tigers found themselves within four with 39 seconds left after Miller's bucket. But EKU finished out the game with three free throws to secure their fourth consecutive win over TSU.
Tennessee State continues its' three game-road trip with a visit to Tennessee Tech next Thursday, Jan. 5. Tip-off is 7 p.m. in Cookeville.
-- TSU TIGERS --