Las Vegas, Nev. - A 9-4 run to close the game helped push the Tennessee State University Tigers past the Morgan State Bears, 69-64, in the final round of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational on Saturday at the Orleans Arena.
Morgan State (0-6) led by as many as 11 in the second half, before the Tigers (3-4) roared back to take a two-point advantage at the half.
In the second half, Morgan State jumped out to a 9-to-2 run and never fully relinquished the lead until a Jordan Cyphers trey at the 1:19 mark in the second half. From that point on, the Tigers made six freebies to close-out the game and improve to 5-1 all-time in Las Vegas.
The Tigers used another balanced attack as four players reached double-figures. For the game, TSU shot 42 percent (21-of-50) from the field, including a stout 56 percent (9-of-16) from 3-point range.
In the rebounding column, TSU edged Morgan State 35-to-29, including 24-to-20 on the defensive glass. The Big Blue finished the game with a 72 free throw percentage (18-of-25).
Robert Covington inked his 47th career double-figure game, posting a game-high 23 points and eight rebounds. The Bellwood, Ill., product was 9-of-12 from the free-throw line, swatting away two shots and picking up steals against the Bears.
Covington was named to the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational All-Tournament team, averaging 17.0 points, 6.5 rebounds along with 11 assists and seven steals.
Sophomore guard Patrick Miller posted his fourth consecutive double-figure game with 15 points. He posted a solid stat line, making 7-of-8 from the charity stripe, pulling in three boards and recording an assist, a block and a steal.
Also reaching double figures was junior Kellen Thornton with 12 points. He tied for a season-high with five rebounds and dished out two assists.
Wil Peters notched 10 points, dishing out four assists and four rebounds in 24 minutes of action.
The Tigers took the opening basket with a trey from Robert Covington. Morgan State followed with two triples, taking a 14-8 lead into the first media break. Morgan State drove through the paint scoring eight points through the first eight minutes of action and building a 19-11.
The Tigers fought back as Covington connected on a triple and Miller made a jumper to help the Tigers pull within three with 7:39 left in the half. Back-to-back triples from Peters and Miller gave Tennessee State the 28-23 advantage. The Tigers added another layup from Peters to take a 30-28 advantage into the locker room.
For the half, TSU shot 41 percent (12-of-29), forcing 10 Morgan State turnovers. However, the Bears dominated the glass, 20-to-13.
Peters and Covington each had a team-high eight points for TSU, while DeWayne Jackson had a game-best nine points.
The Morgan State Bears opened the second half on a 9-2 run to take a 37-32 lead. The Bears continued their scoring to take a five point advantage with 11:08 left in the game.
Miller drained a triple at 7:52 to tie the game, but Morgan State drove through the lane and added a basket plus the and-one opportunity.
Covington made a pair of freebies to give the Tigers their first lead since early in the second half, 55-54. However, MSU answered back with two free throws and a basket by Jackson to go up by three.
The Bears held a two-point lead until Covington made a layup at 2:12 to tie the game. On the next TSU possession, Cyphers connected on a triple to give TSU the 63-61 edge. The Wichita, Kan., native finished the game with six points, a season high four assists and two rebounds.
Peters and Miller made six of the next seven free throws to seal the victory for the Tigers.
Tennessee State returns home for the 'Battle of the Blues' when the Tigers host Middle Tennessee on Thursday, Dec. 1. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. at the Gentry Center.
-- TSU TIGERS --