Nashville, Tenn. - Tennessee State grinded out a 59-52 victory over Morehead State on Friday evening to advance to the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Championship on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Tigers will face Murray State in a nationally televised contest on ESPN2.
The Tigers (20-11) overcame 20 turnovers and shot 53 percent (20-of-28) to pick up their 20th win of the season - the first time a TSU squad reached that plateau since the 1978-79 campaign. For the evening, Morehead State (18-15) was held to 36 percent (20-of-56) shooting.
TSU inked 12 steals and staved off a second half rally by the Eagles to ensure the rubber match with nationally ranked Murray State on Saturday afternoon.
A trifecta of Tigers reached double-figures as Robert Covington led TSU with 14 points. The junior was 5-of-8 from the field, while grabbing four rebounds.
Jordan Cyphers came off the bench to knock down three triples and score 13 points. Guard Patrick Miller reached double-digits notching 13 points with six assists. Redshirt freshman M.J. Rhett inked eight points with four rebounds. Meanwhile, senior Wil Peters led all players with seven assists.
Tennessee State opened up the first half with a strong shooting performance, notching 56 percent (10-of-18) from the floor. The Tigers hit four makes beyond the arch, including three from Cyphers. Cyphers led TSU with 11 points at the break.
With 17:03 on the clock, Covington went down after making a hard fall. He would later return about five minutes later.
The Tigers' 8-2 run opened the game to 20-9, but Morehead State fought back with a triple late in the game to pull within 26-21 at the break.
Morehead State went on a brief run to take a one point lead at the 18:44 mark. The Tigers proceeded on a 6-0 run to lead 34-29. From there, the Tigers never surrendered the advantage.
The Eagles cut the deficit to within two on several occasions, but couldn't get the go-ahead points. TSU stretched its' largest lead to seven at the end of the game to pick up their second win over Morehead State this season.
Saturday's matchup with Murray State will be the third for the two teams in just three weeks. TSU won 72-68 at Murray State on Feb. 9 before the Racers clinched an 80-62 victory at the Gentry Center on Feb. 23.
Fans can watch the contest on ESPN2 with Bob Wischusen and Fran Franschilla calling the action. Tickets are still available for purchase at the Municipal Auditorium Box Office or Ticketmaster.com.
-- TSU TIGERS --