NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee State Lady Tigers came all the way back from a 17-point second half deficit to tie the game with less than a minute to play, but visiting Eastern Illinois was able to leave the Gentry Center with an 84-80 victory Thursday night.
The Lady Tigers were battling for a spot in the OVC Tournament, but EIU was able to lock up the final berth with the victory in a game that featured several momentum changes.
TSU started the game on a fast note, jumping to an 8-0 lead. The Lady Tigers pushed the lead to double digits (27-17) with 6:57 remaining in the first half. EIU then bounced back to outscore TSU 12-2 the remainder of the first half to knot the game at 29-29 heading into halftime.
In the second half, the Panthers came out quickly with a surge and had opened a 52-38 lead before the 15-minute mark of the second half. EIU would build a 58-41 advantage at the 13:07 mark.
The Lady Tigers began climbing back into the contest and tied the game at 80-80 after Theresa Bowen's pair of free throws with 54 seconds remaining. EIU took the lead with 35 seconds left as Ashley Kearney made one of two free throws. TSU was unable to score the rest of the way and EIU iced the game with free throws, the last two coming by Megan Sparks with four seconds left.
Quanecia Fletcher led the Lady Tigers' second half rally scoring 14 of her game-high 19 points in the final half. Odessa Kelly recorded her fifth double-double of the season with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Three other Lady Tigers tallied in double digits with Aquanya McClain scoring 12, Sabrina Gordon 11, and Bowen 10.
EIU (6-20, 5-10) also placed five players in double figures with Lauren Dailey scoring 21.
TSU held a tremendous rebounding edge, 60-37. The Lady Tigers had more offensive rebounds (31) than defensive boards (29) in the game. TSU attempted 87 field goals, making 29 for 33 percent. EIU was 27-53 for 51 percent.
The Lady Tigers will close the season Saturday at 5:30 against Southeast Missouri in the Gentry Center.)