NASHVILLE --- Tennessee State could never make the come back complete as visiting Tennessee-Martin got off to a hot start on the way to handing the Tigers a 78-69 Ohio Valley Conference defeat Thursday night.
The Tigers saw the Skyhawks erupt to a 20-9 lead six minutes into the contest behind five 3-point field goals. The Tigers trailed 34-26 at halftime.
In the second half, the Tigers erased a 13-point deficit with 12:42 remaining. TSU cut the lead to three at 57-54 with 4:41 left to play on a jumper by Roshaun Bowens. The Tigers would get no closer and UTM scored the five points in the final 13 seconds to stretch the margin to nine points.
"I was disappointed with our focus," said head coach Cy Alexander. "We have not arrived yet and we have a long way to go."
Bowens led TSU with 25 points. Bruce Price scored 12. The Tigers shot 39 percent and were hurt at the free throw line, making 10-of-17 chances for 59 percent.
Jared Newsome led the Skyhawks with 24 points while Jeremy Kelly added 21.
TSU (4-12, 3-2 in OVC) hosts Murray State on Saturday. UTM is now 6-12 and 1-5.