The Tennessee State Tigers men’s basketball team held on to defeat the UT Martin Skyhawks 88-82 Thursday night thanks to several clutch plays and big shots in what was a key Ohio Valley Conference game.
The Tigers led by as many as 18 points at one point in the first half, but the Skyhawks slowly chipped away and eventually took a 1-point lead.
But the Tigers quickly got it back and didn’t relinquish it again thanks to huge crunch-time plays on both ends by center Adong Makuoi.
Makuoi had 16 points and eight rebounds. Zion Griffin led all Tigers’ scorers with 19 points, three rebounds, and a steal.
The win improves the Tigers to 10-7 in the OVC, which is good for second place while the Skyhawks drop to 10-7 and are in third place.
Tennesee State fell into an early hole as the Skyhawks jumped out to a 12-4 lead before the Tigers settled in led by Makoui and Fitzgerald who started a 12-4 run to put them up 26-18. By halftime, TSU led 41-33.
The Skyhawks then went on multiple runs at the beginning of the second half, including a 9-6 run that pulled them within 47-42.
Skyhawks guard Jordan Sears went on a personal run to give UT Martin a brief lead midway through the second half. After Makuoi gave the Tigers the lead back with an offensive board that led to a slam dunk, he had a block on the other end that led to a 4-point play by Boyd to increase the lead to 72-67.
With the Skyhawks trailing 85-80 with 40 seconds remaining, Sears made another layup to make it a three-point game. The Tigers, however, made foul shots and got a steal down the stretch to seal the win.
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