MOREHEAD, Ky. – Morehead State survived a shaky start and a second half comeback bid from Tennessee State to claim a 72-66 Ohio Valley Conference win Monday night in Johnson Arena.
Senior Les Simmons scored 13 points, including 10 in the second half, and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Morehead State. Senior Maze Stallworth and sophomore Terrence Hill added 12 points apiece, while junior Kenneth Faried grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds and added nine points for the Eagle. The Eagles were too much for the visiting Tigers to handle on the glass as they won the rebounding battle 40-23.
“We were able to out-rebound that team by 17, which was the difference and is huge in conference play,” said MSU coach Donnie Tyndall after the game.
Trailing by five with 20 second left, Nobles drained a deep three, his fourth of the game, to bring TSU within two, before Simmons was fouled and calmly drained two foul shots to give MSU a 70-66 lead with 14 seconds remaining. Simmons then grabbed the ensuing rebound on a Nobles miss and walked back down the court and drained two more freebies to ice the game for the Eagles.
“Simmons played his best game of the season. He played very, very well,” stated Tyndall after the game.
TSU built a six-point first-half lead after a Josh Sain scored on old-fashioned three point play with 10:03 remaining in the first half. The Tigers pushed the score to 25-17 after Sain converted on 2-of-3 free throws after he was fouled by Stallworth on a trey attempt.
MSU was able to battle back as Simmons completed a three-point play after he was fouled converting a put-back on a strong offensive rebound to spark a 12-2 MSU run. The run included a dunk and a three-point play from Faried, and a free throw and deep trey from junior Demonte Harper to put the Eagles in front 29-27 with 2:07 to play in the stanza. Sophomore Steve Peterson then ended the half with a drive and a pull up jumper to give MSU a four point half-time lead.
The Eagles continued to stretch the lead after the intermission and pushed the advantage to nine at 46-37 with 12:33 left in the second half after a drive and lay-in from Shingles, a tip-in from Simmons, two free throws from junior Sam Goodman and a fastbreak lay-up from Simmons.
The Tigers clawed back within one at 49-48 after they went on an 11-3 run that was capped off by a Sain three-pointer and a steal and lay-up from Jacquan Nobles. TSU then tied the game on a Sain free throw with 9:11 to go in the game. Erick Peguero put the Tigers in front on a baseline jumper with 7:28 on the clock.
Stallworth then re-tied the game on a put-back layup before Nobles picked Harper’s pocket at half court and went in for a layup to put TSU back in front 53-51.
MSU responded with five straight points on a Stallworth three and another Simmons lay-in to take a three point lead with 5:22 remaining. TSU reduced the Eagle lead to one, 56-55, on single free throws from Darius Cox and Peguero before Shingles drained two lay-ups and two free throws to push the lead to 62-55. TSU fired right back with treys from Covington and Nobles to bring the MSU advantage back to one.
Hill sank a deep three-pointer on the ensuing possession to give MSU a 65-61 advantage. After a pair of Nobles free throws, Hill made the first of two free throws at the line. Hill missed the second but Stallworth grabbed a huge offensive board, his eighth of the game, and was fouled on the putback. Stallworth drained two free throws to push the MSU lead to 68-63, setting up the final 30 seconds of play.
Nobles led all scorers with 20 points for TSU and Sain had 17 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Shingles dished out seven assists and grabbed some key rebounds down the stretch. The Eagles grabbed 14 offensive boards that led to 17 second chance points.
Morehead State heads on the road for the weekend with away games at Tennessee Tech Thursday and Jacksonville State Saturday.