NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The SIUE men's basketball team led for 38 minutes Saturday night but gave up a late lead in a 52-49 loss at Tennessee State at Gentry Center.
"Unfortunately it had to come down to that (final 30 seconds). We did a poor job of executing down the stretch. We have to be better down the stretch and play a full 40 minutes," said SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester.
SIUE fell to 5-10 overall and 3-3 in the Ohio Valley Conference while TSU moved to 10-9 (3-3 OVC) with the win.
The host Tigers jumped out to an 8-1 lead in the game's first six minutes but the Cougars dominated for the next ten minutes of basketball. SIUE went on an 18-3 run over that span to take a 19-11 lead highlighted by a monster dunk from Jerome Jones that cut the early deficit to one.
The Cougars closed the half on a 5-2 run to take a 24-17 advantage into the locker room.
Long range shooting proved the difference as SIUE, the second-best three-point shooting team in the Ohio Valley Conference, connected on 3 of 5 from behind the arc in the first half and finished the game 7 of 17. Meanwhile, Tennessee State was just 3 of 15 for the game.
Back-to-back three pointers by Yelovich and Jones increased SIUE's lead to double digits 32-21 three minutes into the second half.
The Cougars looked in command of the second half as Davis and Jones connected on three-point baskets giving SIUE a 43-29 lead with 12 minutes to play.
The Tigers fought their way back into the game behind a 9-0 run to pull within one 47-46 with less than three minutes to play.
Tennessee State claimed its first lead since the midpoint of the first half after Patrick Miller converted a three-point play with 34.2 seconds remaining putting the Tigers in front 51-49.
Jones reached double figures for the 12th time in his last 13 games leading the Cougars with 14 points while Davis added 12. Robert Covington led all scorers with 17 points for TSU and Miller reached double figures with 14.
"We just couldn't execute late. Give Tennessee State credit, they made plays down the stretch and we didn't," added Forrester.
SIUE could not match the Tigers on the glass being outrebounded 40-27 for the contest.
SIUE will return to the hardwood for a pair of home games beginning with Austin Peay Thursday Jan. 19 at 7 p.m.