The Tennessee State University men’s and women’s basketball teams look to 2017 with high hopes for a great season for each. 2016 ended on a sour note for them, as both teams suffered conference losses after starting off the first dozen or so games with pretty good outcomes.
The TSU men’s basketball team began this week by hosting Kennesaw State at the Gentry Center. In their final non-conference game, they fell 76-73 to Kennesaw State at the Gentry Center Monday night. Tahjere McCall (Philadelphia, Pa.) scored a season-high 25 points, with Wayne Martin (Brooklyn, N.Y.) picking up a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Jordan Reed (Philadelphia, Pa.) also finished in double figures with 10 points for TSU (9-5, 0-1 OVC) in a losing effort for which their coach took all the blame.
TSU opened with a 7-6 lead, but momentum quickly shifted to the Owls, and a 16-3 run gave the visitors a 22-10 advantage with 12 minutes to go before halftime. Kennesaw led by as many as 13 points in the opening half. Reed banked in a three from just inside halfcourt as the first-half buzzer sounded to cut TSU’s halftime deficit to 42-34.
The Owls scored first in the second half and maintained a double-digit lead until Martin’s jumper with 13:15 left trimmed the Kennesaw State advantage to 52-44. Later in the half, a 10-0 TSU run gave the Tigers a 62-61 lead, but the visitors took the lead for good for the final three minutes. The Tigers got to within two points on three occasions in the final minute, but were never able to pull even. TSU won the battle of the boards, outrebounding Kennesaw State 39-36.
“It starts and ends with me,” TSU Head Coach Dana Ford said after the game. “I have to do a better job of getting these guys ready to play. I have to do a better job with our defensive game plan; and I have to do a better job of putting the right players on the floor. That is the only thing that was wrong tonight was the coaching.”
The TSU women’s basketball team fell to Murray State, 80-72, in the OVC opener Saturday night in CFSB Center. The men’s team also suffered a 92-83 loss there that day.
The women’s loss snapped a four-game winning streak. The third quarter was the difference as TSU was outscored 29-13 in the frame; the Lady Tigers had held the scoring advantage in each of the other three quarters. The first quarter was played evenly as the score was knotted 16-all at the 2:48 mark. TSU opened the second stanza with four unanswered points to spark a 9-2 rally that put the Lady Tigers on top 30-21. After nearly a two-minute scoring drought by both teams, I’mani Davis knocked down a couple of free-throws to give TSU a 34-23 advantage. The Lady Tigers (5-6, 0-1 OVC) led 34-27 at halftime.
Murray opened the second half with a 5-0 run to close to within two, and pulled even halfway through the frame before taking the lead a few plays later. TSU was outscored 15-6 and fell behind 43-39. Turnovers continued to hamper the Lady Tiger offense and the team sank into a double-digit deficit heading into the final frame, trailing 56-47. TSU continued to fight an uphill battle, as a late rally by the Lady Tigers closed the gap to 76-70 with under a minute to play, but that would be as close as they would get. It’s the first loss TSU has suffered when at least five players have scored in double-digits. Kaliya Griffin and Jayda Johnson led TSU with 15 points each while I’mani Davis (14), Diamond Beatty (10) and Olivia Jones (10) rounded out the top scorers.
On Jan. 5, TSU was scheduled to welcome Southeast Missouri to the Gentry Center for a basketball doubleheader; the women to play at 5:30 pm, followed by the men’s game at 7:30 pm; results were unavailable at press time. The next home basketball doubleheader is scheduled for Jan. 7, versus UT Martin. The women’s team will begin the action at 5:30 pm, followed by the men around 7:30 pm. Remaining January home games are Jan. 11 vs. Morehead State at 6:00 pm for the women’s team; Jan. 19 vs. Tennessee Tech at 7:00 pm for the men’s team; and two more doubleheaders: Jan. 21 vs Jacksonville State, women’s at 5:30 pm and men’s to follow; and January 28 vs. Belmont, women’s at 5:30 pm and men’s to follow.