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Tigers' hot first half ends cold streak against UT Martin
Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Tennessee State University men's basketball team opened a double digit lead in the first half and held it throughout the game, defeating UT Martin, 73-59, inside the Gentry Center on McDonald's Kids Night, Saturday evening (1/9).

TSU (4-13, 1-5 OVC) tacks on their first OVC win, snapping a five-game losing streak and a seven-game skid to the Skyhawks. The win gives TSU their first against UTM since 2006. 

Offensively, they shot 38 percent overall, 36 percent from long range, while topping the boards from one of the league's better rebounding teams, 42-38.

Wil Peters scored a team best, 16 points, to go with a career and game-high, nine rebounds. Josh Sain added 15 points hitting 5-of-6 from the charity stripe and Robert Covington registered 14 points from 6-of-11 shooting, including 2-of-3 from behind the arc. Jeremiah Crutcher finished with a game-high seven assists and a career-high six rebounds.

Defensively, the Tigers managed 12 steals and four blocks with Lonnie Funderburke and Hamilton Nash each delivering two apiece. The two-block performance is the first for both players.

The Tigers shot 48 percent from the floor in the first with Covington scoring all of his 14 points in the half. With the scored tied 16-16, TSU mastered a 24-8 run at the 11:34 mark, sparked by a three-point basket by Martell Buie in the right corner.

Buie tied a career-high scoring eight points from 3-of-4 shooting to lead the reserves who chipped in 14 total points. The surge put the Tigers out in front at the half, 40-24.

TSU held their largest lead in the second with 15:21 on the clock, 53-28, courtesy of a 13-4 run to open the half.

With the score, 58-33 (10:09), in favor of TSU, the Skyhawks answered, turning up the tempo and posting 15 unanswered points, to narrow the gap, 58-48 (5:04). The Tigers shot 13-of-15 from the free-throw line down the stretch and 83 percent overall, to finish outscoring UTM, 15-11, for the final score.

UTM (2-12, 0-5 OVC) drops their third straight and was led in scoring by Ron Spencer and Reuben Clayton. Spencer scored 16 points and eight rebounds, hitting 5-of-6 from the field and 6-of-9 from the free-throw line. Clayton finished with 14 points and four rebounds. The Skyhawks hit 39 percent from the floor and 26 percent from three-point range.

The Tigers will return to action when they head to Carver-Hawkeye Arena to face Iowa. The match-up will be one-of-two remaining for the Tigers' non-conference games. Tip-off is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 12, at 7 p.m. in Iowa City, Iowa.