Nashville --- In a contest that wasn't decided until the final three minutes, Tennessee State had three players score in double-digits to help pull out a close 74-66 win over Belmont Wednesday night in the Gentry Center.
With the victory, Tennessee State (4-7) snapped a three-game losing skid and defeated Belmont (6-4) for the first time since 2001.
Senior Oby Okafor led all scorers with 21 points to go along with nine rebounds while junior Nikki Rumph and freshman Avery Jones each tallied 12. Junior Jasmine Smith pulled down a game-high 13 boards in the contest.
Belmont also had three players to post double-figures led by Cacy Burtnett (20). Amber Rockwell added 14 and Kristin Bunch registered 11.
With the score tied 11-11 in the first half, Belmont posted seven straight points to go ahead 18-11. At the 5:48 mark, however, buckets from Oby Okafor and Nikki Rumph put TSU on top 24-21. After BU tied the game for the fifth time, TSU closed out the half by outscoring the Bruins 8-4.
TSU led 32-28 at the break.
As to be expected, the second half was a battle. TSU captured a 36-30 lead with a little over two minutes ticked off the clock but BU knotted the contest once again (42-42) with 15:45 remaining.
From there the score stayed close as neither team was able to pull away. With TSU trailing 62-61, two free-throws by Okafor sandwiched by two jumpers from LaDona Pierce gave the Lady Tigers a 67-62 lead with 1:23 left to play.
The Bruins came to within three (67-64) with 54 seconds left to play but that would be as close as they would get. TSU knocked down four free-throws in the final minute while Belmont's final few possessions were empty.
Tennessee State shot a season-best 45.8 percent from the field and 70.4 percent from the free-throw line. TSU won the battle of the boards, 43-37, and held the advantage in assists, 15-10, and blocks, 4-2. BU had 10 steals compared to TSU's five but the Lady Tigers scored more points in the paint, 36-26, and off of turnovers, 23-19.
Next, the Lady Tigers will turn their attention to conference action as they prepare to take on Eastern Kentucky on Saturday, Jan.2. Game time is slated for 4 p.m.(est) at McBrayer Arena.