Bowling Green, Ky. - A 7-4 swing late in the final two minutes gave Western Kentucky the 52-49 victory over Tennessee State at E.A. Diddle Arena on Monday evening.
The Tigers (0-2) led by three with 5:03 left in the game, but the Hilltoppers (1-1) continued to charge back. WKU took a 50-46 lead, but a dunk by Robert Covington put TSU within one with 50 seconds left in the game.
WKU hit a pair of free throws to go up 52-49 with six seconds remaining. The Tigers fired a three-point attempt, but it just bounced off the rim to give the Hilltoppers the victory.
For the game, TSU shot 39 percent (18-of-46), holding WKU to 40 percent (19-of-47). The Hilltoppers edged the Tigers in rebounds 32-to-29. However, the Tigers were strong defensively picking up 12 steals and forcing 25 WKU turnovers.
Covington recorded his 11th double-double of his career, posting a game-high 17 points and 14 rebounds. The junior made 54 percent of his shots (7-of-13), while pulling in 11 defensive boards.
Wil Peters and Kellen Thornton followed with eight points each. Thornton tallied all eight points in the first half and was 4-of-7 from the field.
Sophomore guard Patrick Miller totaled five steals and four assists picking up five points and two rebounds against the Hilltoppers.
Meanwhile, freshman guard Kharon Butcher swiped away two steals, picking up a pair of assists and rebounds.
Western Kentucky jumped out to an 8-0 lead before Thornton made a layup at 16:17 to give TSU its' first points. The Tigers roared back scoring the next four points to make it an 8-6 game with 12:29 left.
Thornton added two more baskets to collect eight points in the first 12 minutes of action. Peters hit a two at 5:45 to put the Tigers up 18-17 for the first time in the contest. The two teams traded blows until Kene Anyigbo tallied a basket to give WKU the 21-20 edge with 3:56 left.
Tennessee State took a 24-23 lead into the locker room as the Tigers made 8-of-20 shots from the field for 40 percent. TSU out-rebounded the Hilltoppers 13-to-11 at the midway point.
WKU opened the second half on a five point run to take a 28-24 advantage. TSU went on a 6-2 run to pull within one with 15:30 left in the game.
The Tigers regained the lead at 15:14 with a two-point basket from Peters. However, a three-point basket by Kevin Kaspar put WKU up 33-31 at the 13:42 mark.
The Toppers and Tigers traded jabs again with Zollo hitting a two-pointer to give WKU the 35-33 advantage.
Kenny Moore missed the front-end of a 1-and-1 opportunity, but Covington tallied the put-back to give the Tigers a 38-36 edge with 7:13 left. Moore finished the game with seven points and four boards.
The Tigers picked up a steal and Covington jammed home a dunk to give TSU the 45-42 edge with 5:03 left in the game.
Jamal Crook's three-pointer at the 1:35 mark gave the Hilltoppers the lead for good. It was Crook's first three-pointer of his career.
TSU battled back to pull within 50-49 and WKU added a pair of freebies. TSU's late three was missed by Peters, giving the Hilltoppers their first victory this season.
The Tigers host their first regular season game at the Gentry Center on Wednesday, Nov. 16 against Fisk. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
-- TSU TIGERS --