Robert Covington had 18 points and eight rebounds, but Tennessee State’s return to postseason tournament play was short-lived as the Tigers lost 68-60 at Mercer on Tuesday in the opening round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
Consecutive 3-pointers by Will Peters gave the Tigers a 42-38 lead with 12:32 to play, but they scored just two points over the next 6:15 and never recovered. It was TSU’s first appearance in a postseason tournament since the 1994 NCAA tournament.
Mercer scored 17 of its final 23 points on free throws. The Bears were 20-24 from the foul line for the game, including 20-22 after halftime when they scored 49 points, 30 more than in the first half.
TSU (20-13) led by two at intermission, 21-19, and quickly extended the margin to five when Covington made a 3-pointer 14 seconds into the second half.
Mercer (23-11) responded with a 12-2 run, which included 10 points by Justin Cecil.
The Tigers regained the lead briefly, but Mercer went ahead to stay on consecutive 3-pointers by Langston Hall. They were Hall’s only two field goals of the contest. The first tied it 44-44 and the second made it 47-44 with 8:25 to.
Cecil led all scorers with 19 points and Daniel Coursey (8-8 at the foul line) added 16 for Mercer.
Kenny Moore scored 11 and Jordan Cyphers chipped in 10 for TSU.