January 06, 20161st2ndFinal
Tennessee State313566
Eastern Illinois233861
Stats at a GlanceTSUMBBEIU
FG Percentage.400 (20-50) .431 (22-51)
3P FG Percentage.400 (8-20) .304 (7-23)
FT Percentage.750 (18-24) .625 (10-16)
Offensive Rebounds89
Defensive Rebounds2527
Total Rebounds3336
Bench Points1511
PointsMCCALL - 24
ReboundsMARTIN - 8
AssistsMCCALL - 4
StealsMCCALL - 4
BlocksRICHARDS - 1
TSU Hangs on to Beat Eastern Illinois, 66-61
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
TSU Hangs on to Beat Eastern Illinois, 66-61


CHARLESTON, Ill. – Tahjere McCall (Philadelphia, Pa.) hit six free throws in the final 30 seconds and finished with a team-high 24 points to lead the Tennessee State men’s basketball team to a 66-61 road victory over Eastern Illinois in Ohio Valley Conference action on Wednesday night at Lantz Arena.

TSU (11-4, 2-0 OVC) dominated in the early going and had a 17-point lead in the first half before Eastern Illinois (4-11, 1-2 OVC) stormed all the way back, forcing the Tigers to win the game at the free throw line down the stretch.

“We’re just happy to get the win tonight,” second-year TSU Head Coach Dana Ford said. “We didn’t play particularly well after the first 17 minutes of the game, but we found a way to win it, and that’s the most important thing.”

The Tigers were up by four in the final minute on a three from Keron DeShields (Baltimore, Md.) before the Panthers’ Cornell Johnston answered with a three of his own with 36.6 seconds left to put the score at 60-59. McCall put the lead back up to three with two free throws, but EIU again cut the deficit to one point at 62-61 on Trae Anderson’s layup with 11.5 seconds on the clock.

Two more free throws from McCall with 8.2 seconds put the cushion back up to 64-61. After an Anderson three-point attempt was off the mark on the other end, McCall iced the game with two free throws with 2.2 seconds remaining for the win.

DeShields finished as TSU’s second-leading scorer with 14 points, while Wayne Martin (Brooklyn, N.Y.) was two rebounds shy of a double-double with 10 points and eight boards. For EIU, Anderson posted a team-best 20 points.

With the game tied at 5-5, the Tigers seized control of the first half with a 16-2 run in which TSU held EIU off the scoreboard for nearly five minutes. Capped by a McCall jumper, TSU held a 21-7 advantage with 7:39 to go in the first half.

Just over three minutes later, TSU took its largest lead of the first half of 17 points when McCall’s three-point play gave the visitors a 28-11 edge with 4:35 left before the break.

The Panthers finished the half by scoring eight of the final 10 points to cut the Tigers’ lead down to 31-23 through 20 minutes. It was the fifth time this season TSU has held an opponent to fewer than 25 first-half points. TSU shot 42.3 percent (11-for-26) in the first half and limited EIU to 33.3 percent (8-for-24) from the field.

The Panthers quickly trimmed their deficit down to three on a dunk by Demetrius McReynolds in first 2:30 of the second half.

EIU leveled the scoring at 42-42 on an Anderson jumper with 11:27 remaining in regulation, but TSU responded right away with five points in a row to retake the lead.

The Tigers would go on to lead by as many as eight points with 5:26 left. After EIU trimmed the lead down to one in the final minute, TSU won the game at the free throw line, finishing 18-for-24 from the charity stripe.

EIU held a 36-33 rebounding edge, marking the first time TSU has been outrebounded and won.

Up next, Tennessee State returns to Nashville to take on SIU Edwardsville on Saturday, Jan. 9, at 7:30 p.m.

GAME NOTES: TSU moves to 27-22 in the all-time series versus EIU… TSU is 2-0 in the OVC for the first time since the 2012-13 season… For the fifth time this season, TSU held an opponent to fewer than 25 points… It is the first time the Tigers have accomplished the feat since holding a 32-20 halftime edge over Grambling State on Dec. 12.

Tennessee State Head Coach Dana Ford

“They were big. We made some timely free throws and obviously they help you win, but we’ve got to get better in a lot of areas. We have been good in free throws, but for whatever reason we have kind of slacked off, as well as on the glass, as well as in our defensive field goal percentage. We’re just grateful to get out of here with a win.”

  • On clutch free throw shooting

“I think it’s new for this team and for this program to be the favorite and come out and be ahead of some people. We’ve got to learn how to push that lead up five points as opposed to let people cut into it.”

  • On playing with the lead