|February 28, 2018||1st||2nd||Final|
|Stats at a Glance||EIU||TSU|
|FG Percentage||.469 (23-49)||.460 (23-50)|
|3P FG Percentage||.409 (9-22)||.409 (9-22)|
|FT Percentage||.581 (18-31)||.727 (16-22)|
PRICE - 7
- 3||CHAFFEE JR.
- 2||CHAFFEE JR.
MEKOWULU - 1
OHIO VALLEY CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT – FIRST ROUND
Final Score: (#6 Seed) Tennessee State 71 - (#7 Seed) Eastern Illinois 73
Records: TSU (15-15) – EIU (12-18)
Venue: Ford Center
Location: Evansville, Ind.
EVANSVILLE, Ind. --- The Tennessee State men’s basketball team fell by a 73-71 final score to seventh-seeded Eastern Illinois on Wednesday night at the Ford Center in the first round of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament. Senior Delano Spencer scored a team-high 17 points to lead the sixth-seeded Tigers.
Redshirt junior forward Christian Mekowulu posted a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while junior Armani Chaney finished with 15 points and six assists on the night.
TSU (15-15) nearly overcame an 11-point deficit in the second half, closing the gap to two points in the final minute. The Panthers (12-18), who shot 31 free throws, shot 46.9 percent (23-of-49) from the floor and held on down the stretch.
Spencer scored the game’s final five points, but the comeback fell two points short.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- TSU LEADERS
- POINTS – Delano Spencer - 17
- REBOUNDS – Christian Mekowulu - 12
- ASSISTS – Armani Chaney - 6
- Christian Mekowulu scored in double figures for the 19th time this season.
- Mekowulu recorded his ninth career double-double.
- Armani Chaney reached double-digit points for the ninth time on the year.
- Delano Spencer scored 10 or more points in a game for the 26th time this season.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- After the Panthers took an early 11-5 lead, Christian Mekowulu scored the game’s next six points to level the scoring at 11-11 with 11:16 left before halftime.
- EIU went on a mini run of its own, scoring the next seven points to take a 20-13 lead.
- The Tigers worked their way back into the game by going down low to Mekowulu, who had 13 points and five rebounds at halftime. TSU, which held the Panthers without a field goal for the final five minutes of the half, trailed EIU by a 24-22 margin through 20 minutes.
- A pair of Armani Chaney free throws just over four minutes into the half gave the Tigers a 29-28 edge.
- The Panthers were able to stretch their advantage up to 11 on a jumper from Montell Goodwin with 5:09 left for a 61-50 edge.
- A corner three from Stokley Chaffee Jr. put the Tigers down just three at 65-62 with 1:37 to play, but on the next possession, Mack Smith banked in a three to put the score at 68-62.
- After EIU’s Ray Crossland made two free throws with 15 seconds left for a 73-66 lead, Delano Spencer hit a three and a layup to close the gap, but EIU was able to survive on TSU’s final possession.
HEAD COACH DANA FORD
“I think we cut it down to one possession then I think they banked one in. I think prior to that maybe they got fouled and it was an and-one. You’ve got to give them credit. They were able to answer all of our challenges, but I was proud of our guys for consistently challenging them down the stretch.”
- On EIU having an answer to TSU’s runs
“We needed to make some shots. I guess they were doing a good job down on (Christian) Mekowulu, especially in the second half. He couldn’t really break loose, and in order to free him up, you have to have a couple guys step up and make a few shots and I thought our guys did that. Again, I thought our guys competed and tried to make the plays to win.”
- On players stepping up to hit shots
“Honestly, I have to watch the tape to give you the true answer. I don’t know if EIU did a lot to stop Mekowulu. I don’t know. I’ve got to go back and watch the tape.”
- On what EIU did to stop Christian Mekowulu in the second half
“We don’t want it in anyone else’s hands there. He’s made big shots for us. He’s our best shooter. I’m glad you asked about him. I think he’s an all-league guard. I don’t know why I wouldn’t want the ball in an all-league guard’s hands with the game on the line down two. He shoots 42 percent from three, averages 16 points a game. That’s who I want to take it.”
- On Delano Spencer taking the last shot
“Crossland. I tip my hat to that kid tonight. He guarded Delano Spencer like I’ve seen players in our jerseys guard other people. He did a fantastic job. He did it legally. He showed his hands. He was there on every catch. That’s how you win. That’s how they won, they did a good job. Obviously, Delano has the respect of their coaching staff for them to guard him that way.”
- On the defense of EIU’s Ray Crossland
“Of course. We are a never-quit group. We’ve always been a never-quit group. Coach always tells us, ‘keep grinding. Pound the rock. It’s going to break on day.’ So, of course, we always feel like we’ve got a chance to win a game, regardless of what the score is.”
- On if the team always thought they could win
- TSU is now 12-26 all time in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.
- Tennessee State was making its 28th appearance in the OVC Tournament.
- The Tigers are 29-24 in the all-time series versus Eastern Illinois.