Nashville, TN – On the 20th Anniversary of the Tennessee State women’s basketball team’s last OVC Championship Game appearance, the Lady Tigers are back again in 2015 after a 71-59 win over SIUE, Friday.
The TSU (17-12) post players were the team’s main offensive weapon, as Jayda Johnson (17), Chelsea Hudson (17) and Briana Morrow (11) all scored in double figures.
The Lady Tigers also had success shooting from outside and were 10-of-21 from beyond the arc. Those 10 triples were the second-most for the team this season.
SIUE (19-12) also had three players score in double-figures led by Tierny Austin’s 20.
Morrow paced the Lady Tigers early on, netting her team’s first five points of the game. Despite her effort, TSU still trailed, 9-5, after a three-pointer by SIUE’s Austin at the 15:06 mark.
The Lady Tigers fought back, draining five-of-six to spark a 10-0 run and a 17-11 advantage. TSU’s defense started the run by forcing a pair of turnovers and four consecutive Cougar misses.
TSU shooters went cold later in the half and the squad went on a scoring drought that lasted 4:45. SIUE took advantage and rattled off nine straight points to go back on top, 23-19, with 4:24 remaining in the half.
Morrow finally broke the spell with a layup and Jemilah Leonard scored five-straight to put her team ahead by three.
After another lead change, Rachel Allen canned a deep three to give the Lady Tigers a, 31-28, edge heading into the locker room.
The sides played it close in the opening stanza as turnovers (nine), rebounds (18), bench points (10) and assists (eight) were even.
Brianna Lawrence got TSU off to a good start in the second period, netting her first points of the game on a triple. The hoop gave the Lady Tigers their largest lead of the game up to that point at, 38-32.
Two technical fouls on Tennessee State let SIUE get back into the game and nine straight Cougar points gave SIUE the lead, 49-47.
A huge three-pointer by Hudson as the shot clock was expiring hit its mark and halted the SIUE momentum and put TSU back on top with seven minutes to go.
After trading the lead two more times, Hudson later nailed a jumper and Johnson tossed up a wild, high-arcing three-pointer that somehow found the back of the rim and went in. The hoops put the Lady Tigers up, 61-55, with 3:29 to play.
TSU would not take the foot off the pedal and a slicing layup from Allen with 1:41 to go gave the Lady Tigers a double-digit lead.
All that was left was making the ensuing free throws and the Lady Tigers made good on those, making 11-of-14 for the game.
The Lady Tigers will play for the OVC Championship and a berth of the NCAA Tournament by taking on UT Martin tomorrow at 1:00pm in the Municipal Auditorium.