2014-15 Lady Tiger Basketball Season Recap
The 2014-15 campaign was an unpredictable one and it culminated into what could only be described as a historic run for the Lady Tigers.
The season was one filled with ups and downs in which the Lady Tigers were faced with adversity early on. Through the first seven contests of the season, TSU only managed to win one game but the team continued to persevere despite frustrating circumstances.
After finishing the non-conference slate with a 3-8 record, TSU turned its attention to the Ohio Valley Conference schedule. The Lady Tigers opened league play with a 5-1 mark before three straight losses forced the team to refocus. The turning point was a closed-door meeting in which the team came together for a common goal. From there, the Lady Tigers won seven straight to close out the regular season.
After being predicted to finish the OVC race in sixth place the Lady Tigers posted a 12-4 record and went into the conference tournament as the No. 3 seed.
Still, outside of the players, coaches and those closest to the program, many did not expect what happened next.
In the opening round of the OVC Tournament, Tennessee State dispatched Morehead State, 81-66, before knocking off, No. 2 seed SIUE, 71-59, in the semifinals. The ultimate test came on Saturday, March 7, when the Lady Tigers faced four-time defending OVC Champion UT Martin in the Championship. The Skyhawks went 16-0 in OVC play and were seeking their fifth straight title.
TSU gave UTM all it could handle and outscored the opponent 11-7 in overtime to secure the win. The victory gave Tennessee State its first OVC Tournament Championship in 20 years and extended the program’s winning streak to a record 10 games.
Tennessee State earned a No. 15 seed in the NCAA Tournament and faced No. 2 seed Kentucky in the opening round on Friday, March 20. The Lady Tigers fell to the Wildcats in Memorial Coliseum and finished the season with an overall record of 18-13, the program’s first winning record since 2008-09.
On Wednesday, April 8, the Lady Tigers were honored at the State Capitol and presented with a resolution from Representative Harold M. Love, Jr. of District 58.
Tennessee State finished the season averaging 66.9 points per game while shooting 38.1 percent from the field. TSU averaged 2.9 blocks per game and forced its opponents into 20.2 turnovers per outing. The Lady Tigers led the OVC in offensive rebounding (15.8) and steals (9.7) and while ranking second in turnover margin (+3.0) and offensive rebounding percentage (.359).
The four seniors (Chelsea Hudson, Rachel Allen, Briana Morrow and LaTeasha Hill) accounted for nearly half of TSU’s scoring. TSU finished the season averaging 66.9 points per game while the seniors turned in 32.3 points per contest. Hudson led the way for the Lady Tigers with 14.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game while Rachel Allen averaged 8.4 ppg. Briana Morrow followed with 8.3 ppg and pulled down a team second-best 5.7 rpg. Hudson scored in double-digits in all but six contests and had nine double-doubles on the season. LaTeasha Hill came off the bench to see action in 29 games this season and averaged 5.9 minutes.
Allen notched double-digits in 12 games this season including a 20-point performance against Morehead State in the opening round of the OVC tournament. Morrow posted double-digits 11 times this season while registering three double-doubles.
Hudson and Allen were named to the OVC All-Tournament Team along with junior Brianna Lawrence.
Junior Brianna Lawrence was the hero of the OVC Championship game. She finished the contest with 22 points and came up with clutch buckets when TSU needed them the most, especially in overtime. She was named the MVP and to the all tournament team for her efforts. She tallied 16 points versus Kentucky in the NCAA tournament and finished the season as the team’s third leading scorer with an average of 8.7 points per game. She registered double-digits 11 times and scored at least 15 points six times. Lawrence was one of TSU’s best defenders as she is led the team and ranked fourth in the OVC in steals.
Sophomore Guard I’mani Davis stepped up this season. She was TSU’s second leading scorer (9.8 ppg) and posted double-digits in scoring 15 times. The 6-0 guard, won every jump ball that she attempted this season and pulled down a team third-best 5.3 rebounds per game. She recorded two double-doubles and scored a career-high 23 points versus Eastern Kentucky.
Sophomores Jemilah Leonard (14.2 minutes per game) and Diamond Beatty (7.9 minutes per game) combined for an average of 5.2 ppg for TSU off the bench. Leonard notched double-figures in two games including a career-high 13 points at Austin Peay.
The TSU post players averaged 32.9 of the team’s 66.9 points per game. While senior starters Chelsea Hudson and Briana Morrow led the way, sophomore Jayda Johnson was a big part of the paint production with 7.7 ppg. She scored in double-digits nine times including matching a career-high of 17 points versus SIUE in the semifinals of the OVC tournament.
Senior LaTeasha Hill came off the bench for the Lady Tigers and scored a career-high 10 points at Murray State. She averaged 5.9 minutes per game while freshman Sam Palma has only saw action in 19 games (5.4 mpg).
CLICKED AT THE RIGHT TIME
Tennessee State saved its best run for the end of the season as the Lady Tigers won seven straight to close out the regular season and then went undefeated in the OVC tournament. The 10 consecutive wins was a school record. During the 10-game span, TSU turned in 73.6 points per game while five players averaged double-digits in scoring. Hudson scored 14.5 ppg while I’mani Davis notched 12.3 points per outing. Brianna Lawrence (11.1), Briana Morrow (10.4) and Rachel Allen (10.2) also scored in double-figures during the streak.
A FITTING END
On Jan. 31, 2015, TSU welcomed back to campus members of the 1995 women’s basketball team that won the OVC Championship that season. The former Lady Tigers were honored with a reception and celebrated during halftime of the basketball game for the 20th reunion of their accomplishment. Only two months later, the current women’s basketball team accomplished the same feat. TSU Athletics Director Teresa Phillips was on hand to witness both wins, this time from the stands instead of the sideline as she served as the head coach of the 1995 Championship Team. Senior Briana Morrow was also a part of both championship wins. She was in the crowd in 1995 to watch her mother, Darlene Crawley-Morrow, claim the title as a Lady Tiger. Twenty years later, Morrow was able to follow in her mother’s footsteps and TSU returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 20 years.