BOWLING GREEN, Ky. --- Tennessee State gave Western Kentucky all it wanted, but in the end, the Tigers saw the home-standing Hillltoppers come away with a hard-fought 76-73 overtime victory Friday night in the season-opener for both teams.
After spotting WKU the early lead, the Tigers came back to tie the game at halftime, 37-37. TSU led most of the second half before WKU made a late run and took advantage of opportunities to send the game into the extra period.
The Tigers led in the overtime period until Antonio Hayes hit the go-ahead jumper with 13 seconds left and then later iced the game with a pair of free throws with less than one second remaining after a Tiger missed field goal attempt to take the lead.
"We had our opportunities and I was very proud of the effort," said second-year head coach Cy Alexander. "This is an experience that we will learn from."
Transfer post-player Rod Flowers helped spark the first-half comeback, scoring 17 of his team-high 22 points in the first half. Fellow transfer Eric King had 14 points and had a game-high 14 rebounds. Wayne Arnold scored 15 points and Bruce Price scored 10 points.
Both Price and freshman Reilly Ervin fouled out in the contest. WKU went to the free throw line 29 times compared to TSU's 18 attempts. The Tigers had a chance to clinch the game in regulation down the stretch at the free throw line.
TSU finished the game 28-52 from the field (54 percent). The Tigers held a 40-37 rebounding edge.
Haynes led the Hilltoppers' comeback after the Tigers had opened as much as a 12-point lead at 55-43 at the 11:49 mark of the second half. Haynes finished the game with 32 points, 10 which came on 11 attempts from the free throw line.
The game did not begin until almost 9 p.m. and ended after 11 p.m. as WKU's women played a game that got underway at 6 p.m.
The Tigers will jump back into action on Sunday as they make the short trip to Vanderbilt. Game time is 5 p.m., switched from the original start time of 4 p.m. in Memorial Gym.