Tennessee State looked less like the team that recently won seven of its last eight OVC games and more like the squad that had early season struggles in a 91-83 loss to Southeast Missouri State in the conference tournament quarterfinals on Thursday.
TSU was hampered by nine turnovers, poor shooting in the first half, and an inability to defend without fouling in the second half. SEMO shot 42 free throws in the second half alone, which was among the primary factors that ended the Tigers’ season in Evansville.
Southeast Missouri State led for most of the contest’s opening 15 minutes. But David Acosta and Dedric Boyd combined for a 9-0 run that put the Tigers in front 29-26 with 5:21 left in the half. SEMO answered back, outscoring TSU 9-2 for the rest of the half to take a 35-31 halftime lead.
Although the Redhawks only shot 40% in the second half, they were able to control the pace of the game, and more importantly, get into the bonus with more than 13 minutes left to play in regulation. Although the Tigers shot 25 free throws of their own in the second half — hitting 17 of them — their inability to defend without fouling stymied any potential comeback.
TSU did draw to within 81-75 late in the contest, but the Tigers were simply unable to put enough clean defensive possessions together to get back in the game.
Despite leading-scorer Jr Clay going 18 minutes without a basket, he led Tennessee State with 34 points and added 11 rebounds. Dedric Boyd was the only other Tiger in double figures, with 10 points and six rebounds.