After a fast start in conference play, the Lady Tigers have encountered rough times. Their difficulties continued Saturday with a blowout loss on the road to Austin Peay.

By Ron Wynn

NASHVILLE, TN — Both the Tennessee State men’s and women’s basketball teams hope to rebound at home this week as the OVC race enters its final two weeks. Things didn’t work out well for either squad during Saturday’s losses to Austin Peay. It was a particularly rough loss for the men, who lost a 10-point lead in the final eight minutes, then lost 54-52 on a shot by Tariq Silver with three seconds remaining. The Tigers scored only two points over the last five minutes.

The Tigers had four players in double figures, but neither team shot well and no single players from either squad had more than 12 points. Shakem Johnson and Kassim Nicholson each had 10 points, while Johnson aded 13 rebounds. Dedric Boyd led the Tigers with 11 points, and Kenny Cooper also had 10. But TSU was hurt by the offensive ineffectiveness of their top two scorers, Carlos Marshall and Marcus Fitzgerald Jr. They combined for only thee points, missing two of their three shots from the floor.

Despite that, the Tigers controlled the game for lengthy periods, forging a first half 13-2 lead at one point, and going ahead 47-37 in the second half. But they were unable to crack the Austin Peay man-to-man defense late and ultimately suffered their 10th road loss in 14 games. They’ve won six of 11 at home. The teams split the season series, but Austin Peay at 5-8 is now in fifth place in the OVC, while TSU drops to sixth at 6-9.

A promising start by the Lady Tigers has been negated by a rough stretch that’s seen them lose seven of their past eight games. They got behind early at Austin Peay and were never in the game, dropping their fourth straight 57-37. They scored only 14 second half points, though Austin Peay only had 20.  The Lady Governors got points from all 10 players, with five of them getting at least eight. The Lady Tigers only had two double figure scorers. Tatyana Davis finished with 11 points, along with Elise Harden who had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Lady Tigers are now 6-8 in the OVC,  and 11-14 overall.

Both teams return to the Gentry Center for the final two home games of the regular season Thursday against SIUE and Saturday against Eastern Illinois. Both are still on target to make the OVC Tournament in March, but unless they can make it to fourth place, each team will be playing in the opening round. The OVC Tournament begins March 2 in Evansville, IN.

The Lady Tigers will conclude the home portion of the season this week as they host SIUE on Thursday for Greek Night and then Saturday a noon tip against Eastern Illinois for Senior Day.