Nashville, Tenn. - A 31-18 second-half disadvantage caused the Tennessee State men's basketball team to lose, 69-67, against Loyola (Md.) on Saturday night.
The loss snaps the Tigers' 10-game winning streak at home this year. TSU is now 20-2 in its last 22 contests at the Gentry Center.
Patrick Miller had a team-high 17 points for Tennessee State (16-12, 10-4 OVC) on 6-of-11 shooting. Kellen Thornton added 15 while Jordan Cyphers and Robert Covington poured in 11 and 10, respectively.
Covington also had a team-high nine boards, helping the Tigers to a 35-30 advantage on the boards.
TSU finished the game shooting 43.4 percent from the field (23-of-53) and 42.9 percent from downtown (6-of-14).
After scoring a team-high 22 points in TSU's last contest, Thornton went right back to work on Saturday, draining the Tigers' first two baskets. The first was a pretty right-handed floater on TSU's opening possession while the latter was a powerful slam to put his team ahead, 4-3. The forward's dunk was the start of an 11-0 Tiger run that put Tennessee State up, 13-3.
Thornton ended the first half with a team-high 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting. He also had five boards and was a perfect 3-for-3 from the charity stripe.
After TSU's big start, Loyola mounted a comeback and got within four at 23-19 when the Greyhounds' Dylon Cormier converted on a layup at the 11:17 mark. On TSU's next possession, Miller drove to the basket and used his right hand to get a layup of his own and draw a foul. The junior converted on his freebie, padding the Tigers' cushion to seven.
Miller finished the first period with eight points and helped TSU end the half 10-for-10 from the free-throw line.
Following Miller's and-one, the Tigers raised their lead to 12 thanks to a barrage of threes and long two-pointers. A triple by Tashan Fredrick at the seven-minute mark made the score 37-25 in favor of the home team.
The Tigers finished 5-of-9 (55.6 percent) from beyond the arc during the first 20 minutes. Fredrick and Covington had two of TSU's makes from deep while Miller had the other.
With time running out in the first half, the Greyhounds trimmed the Tigers' lead to 11, 49-38, when Franz Rassman beat the buzzer following a Loyola air-ball from deep.
TSU only allowed Loyola (20-9, 10-5 MAAC) to make one of its four three-point attempts during the opening stanza, but the Greyhounds still managed to shoot 58.6 percent from the field (17-of-29). The Tigers shot 54.8 percent (17-of-31) after the first period, but were benefitted by nine second chance points and an 18-10 edge on the glass.
The Tigers started slow to start the second, making just two of their first 10 shots. The cold spell allowed Loyola to pull within six with 13 minutes left in the game. Cyphers finally ended the draught with a pocket three, making the score 56-47.
Over the next seven minutes, Loyola went on a 19-5 stretch to take the lead, 67-65, for the first time since the 19:33 mark of the first half. TSU had six fouls and six turnovers during the Loyola run.
Miller tied the game with a pair of free throws, but neither team would re-take the lead for the next two minutes.
Loyola got fouled with 11 seconds left on the clock and made both free throws to make the score 69-67 with the road team on top. TSU took the ball past mid court and immediately called time leaving the Tigers 8.9 seconds to try to get off a shot.
Following the stoppage, the Tigers inbounded the pass and gave the ball to Covington. He went up for the shot, but it went wide and TSU dropped its first home game of the year, 69-67.
Saturday marked the first time that TSU has lost a game this year when it has been leading with five minutes to go and the Tigers had zero field goals in the game's final 10 minutes.
The Tigers will look to right the ship on Thursday night when they host Morehead State. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPNU.