NASHVILLE --- Tennessee State (1-14, 0-5 OVC) nearly came away with its first Ohio Valley Conference win of the season when it hosted Tennessee-Martin (6-10, 3-3 OVC) on Thursday night at the Gentry Center. Unfortunately, sharp shooting down the stretch at the free-throw line by the Skyhawks gave them the narrow, 70-63 victory.
The Lady Tigers started out strong, opening the contest on a 4-0 run. With the game knotted at 11, Tennessee State capitalized on a five-minute Skyhawk drought, pulling ahead by as many as nine before a layup by Julie Young reactivated Tennessee-Martin. The Skyhawks managed to whittle the Lady Tiger lead down to one point behind the shooting of Andreika Jackson, who made shots from the floor and the charity stripe. With 37 seconds left on the clock before the break, the squads were tied for the third time in the first half until a free-throw by Deina Willinham put the Skyhawks up by one.
After the break, Tennessee Martin attacked early, going on a 11-0 run. The Skyhawks would put as many as 12 points between them and the Lady Tigers before junior Quanecia Fletcher (Moulton, Ala.) dropped in five points, three of which came from the charity stripe. Tennessee State found itself down by only two with 7:28 left in regulation. However, a series of fouls sent Tennessee-Martin to the free-throw line, where it netted nine straight buckets.
The Lady Tigers started another rally behind a three-point shot by senior Kisha Stewart (Memphis, Tenn.). A layup and three-pointer by junior Lakisha Clay moved Tennessee State to within four, 60-64, with 1:10 left in the game.
Senior Odessa Kelly (Nashville, Tenn.) was fouled with 49 seconds on the clock and dropped in three consecutive shots from the charity stripe, moving Tennessee State to within three after Skyhawk Tiffany Brundige netted two free throws. Brundige returned to the line with 18 ticks remaining in the game, making both, and putting Tennessee-Martin up by five. Finally a layup by Young with five seconds left put the Skyhawks up for good, 70-63.
Tennessee-Martin was led in scoring by Young, who netted a game-high 19 points, including hitting 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. Also scoring in double digits were Jackson, with 14, and Willingham with 10.
The Lady Tigers also had three scorers in the double digits -- Kelly, who contributed 17 points and 10 rebounds, Stewart, who added 15 and junior Lakisha Clay (Detroit, Mich.), who dropped in 13 points.
Tennessee State's bench outperformed the Skyhawks, netting 37 points and the Lady Tigers scored 18 points off Tennessee-Martin turnovers. The Lady Tigers also shot 61.5 percent from behind the arc, hitting 5 of 13 attempts.
Tennessee State returns to action on Saturday as it hosts Murray State at the Gentry Center. Game time is set for 5 p.m.