NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee State University men’s basketball team dropped a 63-55 game to rival Belmont University at the Gentry Center on Saturday evening.
The Tigers (3-18, 0-6 OVC) led for all of the first half, and for the first handful of minutes in the second half, but the Bruins (13-7, 5-2 OVC) held on to the scoreboard for the final 15 minutes of the game. The win is Belmont’s 14th in the series.
Nick Smith led the Bruins with 12 points while pulling down five rebounds. Craig Bradshaw also finished in double-digits with 11 points. Reece Chamberlain made it three Belmont players in double-figures with 10 points
The Tigers burst out of the gates with high intensity, spurning them to an 11-6 lead heading into the first media timeout. Darreon Reddick scored seven points in the first four minutes of action. TSU continued to press its advantage, growing the lead to as much as 15, at one point.
The TSU defense flexed its muscles in the first half. Belmont made its first two shot attempts, but TSU proceeded to hold them to 2-for-11 for the next 10 minutes.
Belmont put together a run to end the half. As they stared down a 25-10 deficit, the Bruins got behind Nick Smith and Evans Bradds and finished the final 8:41 of the half on an 18-5 run.
The Tigers’ defense held the current leading scorer in the OVC, Craig Bradshaw, to three points during the first 20 minutes.
With a 30-28 score coming out of halftime, the Bruins erased the gap and took their first lead 4:50 into the second half. Fouls were a problem for the Tigers during the closing 20 minutes as they were called for 10 fouls just 8:23 into it. Three starters (Demontez Loman, Christian Mekowulu, and Harris) had four fouls on their docket and there were still 11-plus minutes left to play.
Belmont put together a 25-3 run over a seven-plus-minute span (16:44-9:34) creating a deficit that TSU could not overcome. Where the Tigers led by as much as 15, at one point, the Bruins held a 17-point lead with 9:03 left in the game.
The Bruins' lead never shrank below 10 for the remainder of the game.
The Tigers will host Tennessee Tech on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. for the second of a three-game home stand.