RICHMOND, Ky. – The Tennessee State University men’s basketball team dropped an Ohio Valley Conference game on the road to Eastern Kentucky University, 77-72, at McBrayer Arena on Saturday night.
The Tigers (5-20, 2-8 OVC) fought hard with the Colonels (14-9, 6-4 OVC) for the entire 40 minutes but ultimately fell.
With 0:24 left on the clock, TSU battled from behind to tie the game. EKU then scored five points off free throws to win.
Marcus Roper had a field day in Richmond, scoring a career-best 32 points (11-for-20) while shooting 7-of-13 from behind the arc. All but one of his treys came in the second half as he set the season mark for points in a game by a TSU player. Xavier Richards added 16 points while Jay Harris scored 12 to give TSU three double-digit scorers.
The Colonels had two players score over 20 points as Timmy Knipp had 23 (6-for-8, all threes, 5-for-7 FT) and Corey Walden scored 22.
TSU began the first half by maintaining a small lead of one to two points. After the second media timeout, though, EKU took the lead and subsequently began building on that lead.
A steal and breakaway dunk by Demontez Loman cut through a small offensive lull for the Tigers, but the Colonels took a 42-30 lead into the locker room. Roper hit a trey as time expired to give the Tigers a bit of momentum heading into the locker room.
TSU shot 47.4 percent for the half (9-for-19) but allowed EKU to shoot 53.8 percent (14-for-26) including 6-for-13 from behind the arc. The Tigers were just 2-for-8 from three.
Right out of the locker room, though, Roper drained a three and Richards made a strong block on defense. Along with a made free throw by Roper and a lay-in by Richards, TSU was within six points of EKU two-and-a-half minutes into the closing half.
The Tigers continually stabbed at the lead, never quite piercing it, until Roper hit the seventh of his treys knotting it up at 72. Walden drew the foul on EKU’s ensuing possession and made both freebies to give EKU a 74-72 lead with 23.6 seconds to play.
TSU with the ball, Roper tries a go-ahead trey from the left wing but the shot falls short and EKU came up with the rebound. The TSU bench believed Roper was fouled and head coach Dana Ford was called for a technical due to his reaction to the play. Along with the foul called on the rebound, EKU made three of their four shots from the line to give them the five point margin of victory.
TSU will next play on Thursday at Tennessee Tech. Tip-off in Cookeville is slated for 7:00 p.m.