LADY TIGERS DEFEAT EASTERN ILLINOIS 67-62
NASHVILLE--- In a stunning display of determination, the Lady Tigers bounced back from Thursday night's loss against Southeast Missouri to defeat OVC opponent Eastern Illinois 67-62 at home on Saturday night. With this win Tennessee State women's basketball breaks a 21-game OVC losing streak. Tennessee State (2-3, 1-1 OVC) forced Eastern Illinois (4-5, 1-1 OVC) to 25 turnovers.The Tennessee State defense held Eastern Illinois (averaging 85.0 points per game) to only 62 points. "My team played the best defense they have played all season," commented Coach Jones, "Tonight they understood what it means to be disciplined, to work hard on every stop, and to execute on offense." Eastern Illinois got out to an early 4-0 lead on a lay-up by Jessica Huffman but it would be short lived as Tennessee State would knot the game 4-4 on a jumper by Nikki Rumph at the 18:41 mark of the first half. The score would go back and forth for the remainder of the half with neither team leading by more than three points at a time. A jumper by EIU's Amanda Maxedon would give the Panthers a 32-27 going into the break. Eastern Illinois shot an impressive 60.0 percent from the field in the first half while TSU shot 35.1 percent from the floor. Two made free-throws by Oby Okafor at the beginning of the second half cut the deficit to three (28-32). But the Panthers would increase the lead to seven on a lay-up by Jessica Huffman (16:06). Jheri Booker converted on a free-throw to bring the game to within three but Eastern Illinois re-claimed the lead 36-44 with 10:22 left on the clock. Down by eight points, TSU made five free-throws and a jump shot to cut the EIU lead to only one at the 9:01 mark (43-44). After two ties at 45 and 47, the Panthers went up three points on a free-throw by Galligan (49-52) with 5:04 left in the game. A bucket by Kendra Appling would tie the game for the third time in the half but Eastern Illinois would maintain a slight lead. Following the contest's fifth tie, TSU would take the advantage on a lay-up by Oby Okafor at the 1:43 mark (58-56). Behind clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch the Lady Tigers were able to hold off the Panthers in route to the victory. Sophomore Oby Okafor (Rolla, MO) recorded her second double-double of the year with a career-high and game best 25 points in addition to 10 rebounds. "For Oby to bounce back from going 5-of-20 against SEMO and get 25 points and 10 rebounds, that's tremendous!" said Jones Sophomore Kendra Appling (Jackson, GA) tallied 20 points for TSU. "I told Kendra that I needed her active and looking to score", commented Jones, "When she gets after it the team gets after it." Meggie Eck led EIU with 17 points while Rachel Galligan and Ashley Thomas chipped in 14 and 10 points respectively. The Lady Tigers next travel to Thibodaux, Louisiana to face Nicholls State (Dec.17) in non-conference action. Game time is set for 3:00 p.m.