Eastern Illinois upsets Tennessee State in OVC opener, 73-71

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Ray Crossland missed one chance to clinch Eastern Illinois’ first-round upset of Tennessee State in a first-round Ohio Valley Conference tournament game, but he redeemed himself by blocking a 3-point try by Delano Spencer with a second left to preserve a 73-71 win Wednesday night.

The No. 7 seed, Eastern Illinois advances to face No. 3 Austin Peay in a quarterfinal battle Thursday.

After hitting 3 of 4 free throws in the final minute, Crossland stepped to the line with four seconds left with the chance to turn a two-point lead into a two-possession advantage. But he missed both free throws. The Tigers got the ball to Spencer, who hit two layups and a 3-pointer in the final :21 seconds to get Tennessee State within two points, but Crossland got a hand on his 3-point try.

Eastern Illinois held an 11-point advantage with just over five minutes to play after Montell Goodwin hit a jumper. Darreon Reddick hit a 3-pointer, Spencer turned a 3-point play, Armani Chaney and Stokley Chaffee Jr. both hit 3s and Tennessee State, the No. 6 seed, had cut its deficit to just three, 65-62.

Mack Smith answered with a 3 with 1:04 left and Crossland hit the first of two free throws to push the lead to 69-62 with :43 left. Spenser was fouled behind the arc and hit 2 of 3 from the line to make it 69-64, but DeVantae’ Price added a free throw with :34 left.

Crossland finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks. Goodwin finished with 20 points to lead the Panthers (12-18) and Mack Smith added 15 points.

Spencer had 17 points to lead Tennessee State (15-15). Christian Mekowulu scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and Chaney added 15 points.

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