NASHVILLE --- Senior Kisha Stewart (Memphis, Tenn.) nearly led Tennessee State to its first Ohio Valley Conference victory behind her career-high 28-point performance, including dropping in eight three-pointers, Thursday night at the Gentry Center. Unfortunately, her efforts were not enough and the Lady Tigers (1-20, 0-11 OVC) fell to Eastern Illinois (7-16, 4-8 OVC), 73-65.
The Panthers opened up the contest with a 7-0 run that has finally halted by Stewart's first three-pointer of the game at the 17:58 mark. The Lady Tigers could only get as close as eight points before Eastern Illinois netted nine buckets from the charity stripe and three three-pointers to push it ahead, 33-15, with 5:07 left. A free-throw hit by Megan Casad with three ticks left on the clock put the Panthers up by 20, 42-22, heading into the locker room.
After the break, Tennessee State returned to the hardwood reenergized. The Lady Tigers started the second stanza with a 19-5 run. Stewart turned up the heat from behind the arc and dropped in five three-pointers moving the Lady Tigers to within striking distance with four points separating the teams. A series of costly fouls sent Eastern Illinois to the charity stripe, where it made nine consecutive shots, giving it a 12-point advantage, 69-57, with 4:52 remaining in the game. With time running out, junior Lakisha Clay (Detroit, Mich.) fought for her next three shots inside the paint, moving Tennessee State to within eight but a jumper by Katie Meyers with just over two minutes remaining was enough to keep TSU at bay for the rest of the game.
Eastern Illinois had four players to score in double digits - Pam O'Connor (19), Meyers (15), Janelle Cazy (13) and Casad (11).
Stewart led all Tennessee State scorers with 28 points and one rebound followed by Clay, who added 15 points and six rebounds.
The Lady Tigers return to action on Saturday, February 14 as they host their final home game of the 2003-04 season. Tennessee State will take on the Otahkians of Southeast Missouri State beginning at 5 p.m.