Martin, Tenn. - Tennessee State University used a combination of defense and strong second-half shooting to defeat UT Martin, 72-59, at the Elam Center on Thursday evening.
Three Tigers reached double-digits as Tennessee State improved to 12-10, 5-4 in the Ohio Valley Conference. TSU used a 16-to-6 run in the second half to pull away and sweep the regular season series with the Skyhawks.
The Skyhawks (3-19, 0-9 OVC) turned the ball over 20 times, shooting 44 percent (20-of-46) for the game. TSU scored 25 points off 20 UTM turnovers.
Offensively, the Tigers shot 48 percent (23-of-48) from the field, making 24-of-34 attempts at the free throw line. In the second half, TSU made 12-of-18 for 67 percent from the field. TSU was out-rebounded by an opponent, 31-29, for the first time in 11 games.
Patrick Miller led the Tigers with 17 points, all of which were scored in the second half. The sophomore was 7-of-11 from the field. He also dished out three assists, notching a career-best two blocks and a steal.
Reigning Co-OVC Newcomer of the Week Kellen Thornton scored 14 points, picking up three boards in 24 minutes.
Also reaching double-figures for the 21st straight game was Robert Covington. The junior forward added 11 points, swatting away three blocks, recording three steals and dishing out two assists in 24 minutes.
Forward Kenny Moore set a season-high with four assists and three rebounds. In 20 minutes of action, Moore also picked up a block and a steal.
Senior Wil Peters added seven points and three rebounds, while freshman M.J. Rhett notched four points and four rebounds. Guard Jay Harris tallied seven points, an assist and a steal.
Tennessee State held a narrow 26-25 lead over the Skyhawks in the first half. The Tigers shot 37 percent (11-of-30) from the field, as Covington led TSU with 10 points. The Tigers scored 20 of their 26 points off of UTM turnovers, forcing 14 in the first half.
The Tigers jumped out early to a 10-5 advantage with 15:36 left on the clock as Covington and Harris combined for all the points. UTM fought back tying the game at 10, but TSU used a 10-0 run to stretch their lead to 10.
UTM used a 9-to-2 run, narrowing the Tigers' advantage to 22-19 with 3:43 left in the first period. The Skyhawks used back-to-back baskets from Corderio Maclin to take a brief 25-22 lead. TSU snapped a six minute scoreless drought with four consecutive points, taking a 26-25 lead at the break.
In the second half, TSU started on a 16-to-6 run, capped off by a Chris Conner trey at 14:32 to take a 42-31 advantage. TSU stretched its lead to 16 with a basket at 8:37. From there, the Tigers traded baskets and sealed the win at the free throw line.
Tennessee State returns to the Gentry Center for a two-game home stand beginning on Saturday. The Big Blue welcomes Eastern Kentucky for a 7 p.m. start.
-- TSU TIGERS --