Nashville --- The Tennessee State University women's basketball team gutted out a 62-52 win over Eastern Kentucky Tuesday night in the Gentry Center.
With the win, Tennessee State (4-8, 1-3 OVC) snapped a five-game losing skid while Eastern Kentucky moved to 4-7 (1-3 OVC).
Freshman Tayla Foster came off the bench to post 16 points and six rebounds in just 14 minutes of play while sophomore Simone Hopes grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds for TSU. Senior Meredith Stafford finished the game with 10 points and six boards.
Brittany Coles and Alex Jones led EKU with 13 points apiece while Reese Bass added 12. Jones just missed a double-double with nine rebounds.
In the first half, the teams played to a 10-10 stalemate before the Colonels used a 12-4 run to capture a 22-14 lead with 6:32 on the clock. Over the next three minutes, TSU put together a rally to close within one, 22-21. EKU, however, outscored TSU 5-2 to close out the half and carried a 27-23 lead into the break.
TSU cut the deficit down to two points in the opening moments of the second half but EKU stretched its advantage back up to 31-25 minutes later. The Colonels moved ahead 35-27 (15:09) before the Lady Tigers forged a comeback.
An 11-2 run capped by an offensive rebound and put-back by Destiney Gaston gave TSU its first lead, 38-37, since early in the first half.
Both teams battled and traded buckets over the next several possessions. At the 6:49 mark, TSU was holding on to a slight 47-46 lead when six unanswered points made the Lady Tiger lead 53-46 with 3:13 remaining. TSU never trailed again.
With less than a minute left to play Alex Jones scored to bring the Colonels to within three, 55-52. On the ensuing possession, Meredith Stafford nailed a clutch jumper to put the Lady Tigers on top, 57-52 with 29 seconds remaining.
Eastern Kentucky attempted to go long on the next inbound play but Jasmine Brimm intercepted the pass and hit one-of-two free-throws to give TSU a 58-52 lead. On EKU's next trip down the floor, Meredith Stafford recorded her second steal of the game before being fouled by Brittany Coles.
Stafford knocked down both free-throws before Brimm hit two more freebies to settle in the final score.
Tennessee State out-rebounded Eastern Kentucky 45-32 and hauled in 17 offensive rebounds on the night. TSU shot 83.4 percent (14-of-17) from the free-throw line while EKU knocked down 81.8 percent (9-of-11). Neither team shot particularly well from long range as the Lady Tigers only managed to hit 4-of-22 (18.2 percent) and the Colonels shot 23.8 percent (5-of-21) from beyond the arc.
The Lady Tigers will close out the month with a contest at ACC member Georgia Tech on December 30. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. Alexander Memorial Coliseum.