Sunday, January 17, 2016
Tennessee State Tigers Top Murray State, 73-71, on McCall’s Late-Game Heroics
NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Tahjere McCall (Philadelphia, Pa.) hit a layup with 2.5 seconds left to lift the Tennessee State men’s basketball team to a 73-71 home victory over Murray State on Saturday night at the Gentry Center to keep the Tigers undefeated in Ohio Valley Conference play at 5-0. The win was the first for TSU over the Racers since Feb. 9, 2012.
The Tigers improved to 14-4 on the season, matching the start of the 1994-95 team that won the OVC regular season championship, while the Racers slip to 8-10 overall and 2-3 in the OVC. TSU’s last home win over Murray State came on Feb. 14, 2008. The victory also extends TSU winning streak to five games.
“A win like tonight, that kind of solidifies you in terms of your program getting better,” second-year TSU Head Coach Dana Ford said. “We haven’t beaten Murray State in a few years.”
McCall led the home side with 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists on the night. Three other TSU players finished in double figures in Keron DeShields (Baltimore, Md.) with 15, 12 from Wayne Martin (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and 10 from Darreon Reddick (Belleville, Ill.).
For the Racers, Bryce Jones finished 10-for-10 from the free throw line and led his team with 18 points.
A back-and-forth contest in the early going saw the Tigers take a 19-14 advantage midway through the half on a jumper from Marcus Roper (Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.).
After the Racers took a 21-20 lead with 7:50 left in the first half, TSU responded with a 9-0 run to regain the advantage at 29-21. During the run, which was highlighted by a Martin layup off a McCall no-look pass, TSU held the Racers scoreless for more than three minutes.
The visitors ended the half by scoring the final three points to close the gap to 37-34 through 20 minutes.
The Racers had the better of the play to kick off the second half, leveling the score at 42-42 1:38 into the half. Bouncing right back, the Tigers answered with an 11-2 run for a nine-point edge at 53-44. On the run, Martin finished a layup, blocked a shot on Murray State’s next possession and hit another layup next time down the floor.
Murray State tied the score at 55-55 with 9:16 to play and took the lead at 58-55 on Justin Seymour’s corner three on the next possession.
The game remained close, and TSU tied it back up at 67-67 on Martin’s free throws with 3:24 left.
Down the stretch, the Tigers gained a four-point edge at 71-67 on two McCall free throws with 1:14 to play before Jeffrey Moss’ layup with just over a minute left put the margin back down to two.
A pair of Jones free throws for MSU leveled the score at 71-71 with 22.1 seconds left setting up McCall’s late-game heroics.
TSU held a noticeable advantage inside, scoring 36 points in the paint to Murray State’s 16. The Tigers also finished with a 35-27 rebounding edge.
Next up, TSU heads to Belmont to face the Bruins on Saturday, Jan. 23, at 5 p.m. at the Curb Event Center.
GAME NOTES: TSU improves to 17-51 in the all-time series versus Murray State… TSU led at the half for the sixth game in a row… For the second time during the OVC schedule, the Tigers finished with four players with double figures… TSU also accomplished the feat at Southeast Missouri on Jan. 2, 2016…TSU moves to 7-1 at home this season… The Tigers have now won five in a row.
Tennessee State Head Coach Dana Ford
“They’re good. They’ve got some really good players and they strike you off the bounce and they’re athletic and they’re strong, they can handle the ball… When you get in that bonus early your guys, they play a little more timid and they had made some shot so they loosened our defense, they loosened our gaps up when we had to be closer to our man then to the ball. They took advantage of it. They’re well coached, great preparation and we just had to weather the storm at the line to be honest.”
•On Facing Murray State
Tennessee State Guard Tahjere McCall
“I wish I could tell you what was going through my mind. I knew it was going to come down to one shot. Coach said ‘make sure you take the last shot.’ So that’s what I was waiting for. Going to the rack, (the defender) actually played really good D. I was taller so I was able to get over him on the last shot, and I watched it go up. It felt good, and I was just waiting for it to go in. The feeling was amazing.”
•On the game-winning shot
Tennessee State Guard Darreon Reddick
“We’re a family, and we’re always together. We came together in the huddle and Coach (Dana) Ford said it’s now or never. We just came together for the last four minutes and got it done.”
•On staying together down the stretch.
COURTESY TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY SPORTS INFORMATION