The 2016 Ohio Valley Conference Basketball championship tournament is underway. Both TSU mens and womens teams are competing for the conference championship, and its automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The championship games will be played on Saturday, March 5, and all games are played at Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium. While you’re there, be sure to visit the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum on the lower level.
Tennessee State’s womens team entered the tournament as the seventh seed. The Lady Tigers faced No. 2 seed Belmont at 2 pm Wednesday, March 2; results were unavailable at press time. UT Martin earned the top seed, SIUE was the No. 3 seed ,and Eastern Kentucky fourth, with Austin Peay, Southeast Missouri and Murray State rounding out the field. Should the Lady Tigers have prevailed, they would face the winner of Thursday’s SIUE / SEMO game in a semifinal contest at 2 pm Friday, March 4. The championship game is at Noon Saturday, March 5.
Tennessee State’s mens team (20-9, 11-5 OVC) picked up its third 20-win season at the Division I level with an 87-72 victory over Belmont on Sunday afternoon at the Gentry Center, matching the total put up by the Tigers in 1978-79 and 2011-12. TSU held a 39-38 halftime edge and pulled away by outscoring Belmont (20-10, 12-4 OVC) 48-37 in the second half for TSU’s first win over Belmont since Feb. 14, 2013. The victory improved TSU to 11-2 at home, tying the school record for wins in a season at Gentry Center.
With the victory, TSU clinched a first round bye in the OVC Tournament as the fourth seed. They will have played their first game Thursday, March 3 against the winner of Wednesday’s contest between #5 seed Tennessee Tech and #8 seed Austin Peay; results were unavailable at press time. Thursday’s winner plays #1 seed Belmont at 6:30 pm Friday, March 4, and the championship is at 5:00 pm Saturday, and will be carried live on ESPN2.
Last Sunday’s game was Senior Day at TSU, and Tiger seniors Keron DeShields (Baltimore, Md.), Christian Griggs-Williams (Milwaukee, Wisc.), Demontez Loman (South Port, N.C.), Xavier Richards (St. Thomas, Virgin Islands) and Marcus Roper (Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.)were honored prior to the game.
“A couple of (our seniors) really stepped up and had good games for us,” second-year TSU Head Coach Dana Ford said. “You need that on Senior Day. I’m just happy for our players. … We lost 26 games last year, and they got a 20-win season the next year. I’m really happy for those seniors.”
Fans who cannot attend the 2016 Ohio Valley Conference Basketball Championship in person can catch 11 of the 14 games on the OVC Digital Network () free of charge and in an HD format, available on any computer, tablet or smart phone without needing any special downloads, apps or registration, as well as on the Roku streaming device. The only games not available are the men’s semifinals (ESPNU) and the men’s championship (ESPN2). All seven women’s tournament games can be seen on ESPN3.