By Ron Wynn
The Tennessee State Tigers combined clutch free throw shooting with some key steals and defense to hold on for an 68-66 win over the Eastern Kentucky Colonels Saturday night at the Gentry Center. It was Senior night, and seniors Tahjere McCall, Jordan Reed and Wayne Martin all played key roles in the victory that improved their record to 8-7 in the OVC, and 17-11 overall.
McCall set a school record for steals, ending with 72 up to this point. He also made two key layups in the final minutes. The Tigers made six free throws in the last 36 seconds, and forced three turnovers in the final seconds. Armani Chaney hit the key free throws to cement the victory with 3.2 seconds to go.
Eastern Kentucky made a comeback after falling behind by double digits in the first half through pinpoint three-point shooting. They made almost 55 percent of their three-point attempts, hitting 12 of 22.
But the Tigers totally dominated the boards, outrebounding EKU 36-22, and getting 13 offensive rebounds to only four for the Colonels. Guard Nick Mayo was a one-man wrecking crew with 24 points, seven rebounds, four assists and a block. Dillon Avare added 15 points for Eastern Kentucky. Mayo was matched by the Tigers’ McCall, who had 20 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Reed had 13 rebounds to go with eight points.
“I am happy with the win” TSU head coach Dana Ford said on the website. “ It was not very pretty. Nick Mayo is a fine guard and he really kept them in the game. Dan (McHale) you have to give him some credit. The future is bright for them.”
TSU will conclude the regular season Saturday night against division leader Belmont at the Curb Center. A win would give the Tigers a 9-7 OVC mark, but they are assured already of another winning season.