NASHVILLE --- Tennessee State made a late push, but visiting Portland State held on to hand the Tigers a 74-71 defeat Tuesday night in the Gentry Center.
The Tigers were without head coach Cy Alexander, who did not attend the game due to illness. Assistant coach Jamal Brown served as acting head coach.
The Vikings were led by Blake Walker, who had an outstanding offensive night for the Vikings. Walker tallied 41 points, making 12 of 18 field goals and converting on 13 of 15 free throws.
Tennessee State jumped to the early lead, building an 8-0 lead four minutes into the game and held as much as a nine-point lead twice in the first half before cutting the margin to 30-28 at halftime. The Tigers did not convert a field goal the last 6:23 of the first half.
PSU got off to a quick start in the second half and built their largest lead at 55-45 at the 4:57 mark. The Tigers fought back to pull within 67-66 with 1:34 left after a Garrett Richardson layup. However, Walker made a pair of free throws and a field goal on consecutive possessions to give the Vikings a cushion.
TSU was led by Bruce Price who tallied 23 points. Richardson finished with 19 and Jeremy Jackson and Roshaun Bowens each scored 20. Bowens scored all of his points in the second half.
The Tigers (1-10) will open Ohio Valley Conference play Jan. 8 against Jacksonville State. Portland State (6-6) plays at Tennessee-Martin Friday night.