JERSEY CITY, N. J. – A hard fought game at the Yanitelli Center goes to Saint Peters as the Tennessee State University men’s basketball team fell 66-58 on Friday night.
The Tigers (2-4) put together a spirited performance but ultimately fell short against the Peacocks (2-4). SPU takes the first ever meeting between the two schools and advances to the Barclay’s Tournament Championship Game tomorrow against Norfolk State. TSU will take on Saint Francis of Brooklyn in the consolation game.
In his first ever game as a Tiger, Christian Mekowulu led with 13 points in 24 minutes of action. The freshman’s debut was delayed due to a knee injury, but tonight’s performance shows what he brings to the table.
Both Marvin Dominique and Travis Hester scored 15 points to lead the Peacocks to the victory. Hester was 4-for-7 from three-point range while Dominique was 7-for-10 from the charity stripe.
TSU closed out the first half on a 9-0 run, cutting Saint Peters’ lead to 42-33 going into the break. Jay Harris was 3-of-3 from beyond the arc, totaling nine points, while Richards dropped seven points through the bucket.
The big story for the Tigers on the half was the beginning of Mekowulu’s collegiate career. After nursing a knee injury for the first handful of games, Mekowulu stepped onto the court at the Yanitelli Center for his first minutes of 2014-15. He scored four points and grabbed a rebound.
The final 20 minutes saw TSU erase the deficit, only to have an invisible lid form over the basket. In fact, for almost six minutes (9:18 to 3:25) neither team made a field goal. Mekowulu broke the silence with a put-back that brought the Tigers within one.
Saint Peters held TSU to 38 percent from the floor and 28 percent from behind the arc in the second frame.
Three Tigers other than Mekowulu finished in double figures. Harris finished with 11 points while Xavier Richards scpred 11, as well, and Rodney Simeon scored a career-high 10 points before fouling out with 1:02 left in the game.
The Tigers will take on Saint Francis of Brooklyn Saturday at 5:00 p.m. at the Yanitelli Center. It will be the consolation game of the tourney. The game will wrap up the Barclay’s Tournament and signal the end of the road trip.