CHARLESTON, Ill. – The Tennessee State men’s basketball team led by 10 points with four minutes left, but couldn’t fend off Eastern Illinois as the Tigers lost on a buzzer-beater, 70-69, on Saturday.
Guard Patrick Miller tied a career-high with 30 points on 9-of-19 shooting and added a 10-for-11 mark from the free throw line.
Senior Jacquan Nobles and big man M.J. Rhett also scored in the double figures for TSU (1-13, 0-1 OVC) with 14 and 10, respectively.
Nobles was also 4-for-7 from behind the three-point line and Rhett led the Tigers in rebounds with eight.
Miller got the TSU offense going with a wide-open three two minutes into the game, but TSU’s second field goal did not come until the 6:44 mark of the first half.
In the meantime, the Panthers (4-8, 1-0 OVC) raced out to a 28-13 lead thanks to 10-for-20 shooting from the field, including 2-of-4 from beyond the arc.
TSU’s second basket of the contest started a 10-0 Tiger run that was capped by a contested lay-in from Rhett that pulled the visitors within five with 3:25 to go in the half.
Nobles closed the first period scoring with a triple with 53 seconds left and TSU went into the locker room down, 33-28.
The Tigers were 1-of-14 to start the game (7.1 percent), but finished the half 6-of-12 (50 percent). TSU’s stellar free throw shooting (84.6 percent) kept the team in the game, early.
Nobles started the second stanza with another three, and Miller converted a fast-break layup at the 17:26 mark to tie the game at 36. It was the first time the game had been tied since it started 0-0.
Miller’s hoop sparked a 9-2 Tiger run to give TSU a five-point lead, and an old-fashioned three-point play by the senior later in the period made the score 59-51 with under six minutes to play.
The Tigers would not relent, and a great rebound by Rhett led to a quick lay-up by Kennedy Eubanks on the other end of the floor to put Big Blue up by double-digits.
The Panthers clawed back following a TSU timeout and rattled off seven straight points to pull within three and force another Tiger timeout at the 2:35 mark.
The contest remained a one-possession game until a pair of missed free throws by TSU gave EIU a chance to win the game, down by one with 20 seconds to play.
A pair of missed shots from inside the paint allowed Chris Oliver a rebound with just two seconds left. Oliver nailed the shot and got fouled. He missed the ensuing free throw, but EIU hung on to win, 70-69.
The Tigers will look to rebound t when they host Tennessee Tech on Jan. 2. Tip-off for that game is scheduled for 7 p.m.