EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – The Tennessee State University men’s basketball team fell to SIU-Edwardsville 45-38 Saturday night at the Vadalabene Center.
The Tigers (3-15, 0-3 OVC) were held by the Cougars (7-8, 3-1 OVC) to 20 percent from the field in the second half. That, along with five-straight points by SIUE, led to the first loss in the head-to-head series suffered by TSU.
Christian Mekowulu led all scorers with 12 points while pulling down 12 boards for his second career double-double.
TSU held Kris Davis to six points, but his second three gave SIUE the game-winning advantage. Rozell Nunn led the Cougars with 10 points and had the steal and break-away dunk that gave SIUE
Darreon Reddick led off the Tiger scoring barrage with a triple that gave TSU an early 3-2 lead. Both defenses flourished during the first dozen minutes of the game as neither team shot over 30 percent.
TSU stretched its lead to as much as nine in the first half as the Tiger D came up with eight stops in a row, at one point. Consistent rebounding on the defensive end also kept SIUE to one shot per trip. With 3:30 to play in the half the score was 19-10 and the rebounding margin was 19-10.
The Tigers held the Cougars to just five more points making the score at the break 21-15 in favor of the Tigers. The SIUE 15-point total is the stingiest the TSU defense has been all season. Big Blue held the Cougars to 26.1 percent shooting for the first 20 minutes.
Both defenses dictated the flow of the game for the first eight minutes of the half until SIUE, down as much as eight, went on a 9-0 run to take a 28-27 lead with 11:33 to play. A trey followed by a Keaton Jackson block brought a generally quiet crowd to a roar.
TSU and SIUE spent the next handful of minutes trading buckets and leads. With 7:19 to play, Xavier Richards drove through the lane, absorbed contact from the defense, and knocked down a layup to give TSU a 33-31 lead.
A tense atmosphere developed as each basket made by TSU was countered by a basket from SIUE. With the score tied at 38 and 1:01 left to go, Kris Davis hit a trey for SIUE. On the ensuing possession, Rozell Nunn stepped in front of a pass and took it to the hoop to give the Cougars a 43-38 lead over the Tigers with 37.9 seconds left. SIUE would close out the win from there.
The result is the second loss in a row despite a half-time lead for TSU.
The Tigers will next take on rival Austin Peay. Tip-off is scheduled for next Thursday at 7:30 p.m.