NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After spotting visiting Cal State East Bay a 19-point advantage in Saturday’s exhibition game at Kean Hall, the Tennessee State men’s basketball team stormed all the way back and held on for a 66-61 victory.
“I felt like after we dug ourselves a 19-point hole, we did some things we had worked on a little bit,” TSU Head Coach Dana Ford. “You have to give them credit. They controlled us. They made some shots, and they were the aggressor early on. Our guys showed a little bit of resolve tonight and were able to come back to win.”
Senior Keron DeShields (Baltimore, Md.) posted a game-high 21 points, while junior Wayne Martin (Brooklyn, N.Y.) registered a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Tigers. On the other end, Jalen Richards led the Pioneers with 17 points on 4-for-9 shooting.
The exhibition was played at Kean Hall, which was built in 1951 and was home to the TSU basketball team until the Gentry Center was built prior to the 1980-81 season.
"We had a great turnout, and it was easy for our students to get here,” Ford commented. “It was just a good experience to play in such a historic building, and our guys had a lot of fun.”
A three-pointer by Cal State East Bay’s Pierre Carter gave the visitors their largest lead of the night at 27-8 with 5:36 to play in the first half.
TSU used an 11-2 run capped by a pair of Demontez Loman (South Port, N.C.) free throws with 1:20 left in the half to pull the Tigers within 10 at 29-19.
In the waning seconds of the half, a desperation half-court shot by Christian Griggs-Williams (Milwaukee, Wisc.) cut the Pioneers’ lead down to 29-24 heading into the locker rooms. Griggs-Williams led all scorers in the first half with nine points.
The Tigers continued their strong play early in the second half, scoring 10 of the first 13 points out of the intermission. With 15:56 left, Johnny Woodard (Duluth, Minn.) drilled a corner three off an assist from Armani Chaney (Chicago, Ill.) to give TSU its first lead at 34-32.
TSU’s lead grew to as many as five points twice in the next 13 minutes, the second coming on a layup from Martin with 3:28 to play for a 56-51 advantage. Down the stretch, the Tigers were able to put the game away by shooting 8-for-10 from the free throw line in the closing 1:40 of the contest.
TSU held a 34-32 rebounding advantage and scored 29 points in the paint to the Pioneers’ 18.
The Tigers officially open the season at Loyola in Baltimore, Md. on Friday, Nov. 13. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET (6:30 CT).