Southeast Missouri State men's basketball drops close game at Tennessee State
After Trey Kellum and William Tchiengang fouled out in the final minutes, it didn't seem likely that the Southeast Missouri State men's basketball team stood much of a chance on Thursday.
That didn't stop the Redhawks from making things interesting down the stretch.
In the end, however, Southeast had no answer for Tahjere McCall, who recorded a game-high 27 points, eight rebounds and four assists in leading Tennessee State to a 65-62 win in Ohio Valley Conference action at the Gentry Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
The loss drops the Redhawks to 6-11 on the season and 1-1 in the OVC.
Southeast trailed by as many as eight points in the second half before a pair of free throws from Daniel Simmons gave the visitors their first lead of the half, 51-50, with 6 minutes, 52 seconds remaining.
A 3-pointer by Denzel Mahoney regained a two-point edge for the Redhawks following a jumper by Wayne Martin, but McCall got a steal and threw down a dunk in transition before knocking down a jumper to give the Tigers a 56-54 lead with 4:18 to go.
TSU (10-5, 1-1 OVC) never trailed the rest of the way.
McCall converted a layup with 42 seconds remaining, and Daniel Simmons answered on the other end for Southeast, knocking down a 3-pointer from the right corner that trimmed the Redhawks' deficit to 61-60 with 31 seconds left.
After McCall sunk two free throws to make it a three-point game, Tahj Eaddy misfired from long range, and the rebound was gathered by A'Torey Everett, who was fouled by Eaddy with 17 ticks left on the clock.
Everett hit the second of his two free throws to extend TSU's lead to 64-60, and Antonius Cleveland quickly scored to pull the Redhawks within two with 12 seconds to go.
Simmons got a steal on the inbound pass but was unable to connect from 3-point range, as McCall came down with the rebound and was sent to the charity stripe with 4 seconds left. McCall hit the first but missed the second, and the Redhawks' last-second heave was off the mark.
Cleveland paced the Redhawks with 15 points, six rebounds and four steals, while Mahoney pitched in 11 points. Tahj Eaddy added 10 points off the bench.
The Redhawks shot 22 of 52 (42.3 percent) from the floor but were only 4 of 20 (20 percent) from 3-point range.
Martin added 10 points for TSU, which shot 22 of 44 (50 percent) from the floor, including 3 of 10 (30 percent) from beyond the arc.
Defending the inside presence of the 6-foot-7 Martin proved to be too difficult for SEMO's bigs to handle. With Milos Vranes sidelined due to a hamstring injury, Kellum and Tchiengang were the Redhawks' only other forwards available, but both fouled out.
Before exiting the game, Kellum was 4 of 5 from the field with nine points and a team-leading eight rebounds.
Southeast returns to action at 7 p.m. Saturday against host Belmont, the team predicted to finish first overall in the league's preseason poll.
The Bruins are led by OVC Preseason Player of the Year Evan Bradds, who's averaging 19 points and 9.1 rebounds per game this season.