MOREHEAD, Ky. -- Sophomore Angelo Warner poured in a career-high 24 points and the Morehead State men’s basketball team knocked down 88 percent of its free-throw attempts en route to a 78-69 victory over Tennessee State on Saturday evening at Johnson Arena.
The Eagles improve to 11-11 overall, 5-3 in the Ohio Valley Conference and 8-3 at home with their sixth win in the past nine games. The Tigers slip to 12-10 on the season, 6-3 in league play and 3-9 on the road with their third straight loss after winning seven in a row.
Morehead State has now won 84 percent (58-11) of its games at Johnson Arena over the past five seasons, including 90 percent (35-4) in OVC action. The Eagles also improve to 31-28 in the all-time series against the Tigers, which dates back to the 1980-81 season.
“I’m so proud of our guys right now,” Head Coach Sean Woods said. “They beat a really quality opponent, just two nights after a devastating one-point loss to Belmont. They showed terrific effort once again and cut down the number of mistakes we had on Thursday.”
Warner, who scored 16 points in the second half, connected on 4-of-10 from the field and 16-of-18 from the free-throw line. He also finished the contest with a team-best six rebounds, plus three assists and two steals. It was his best scoring effort in 53 games at MSU.
“Angelo was a warrior tonight,” Woods said. “He was playing on a banged up knee and still gave us a terrific performance. You have to give him a lot of credit.”
Junior Bakari Turner added 16 points for the Eagles on 6-of-9 from the floor, while junior Drew Kelly contributed 10 points on 4-of-4 from the free-throw stripe.
Turner has now recorded double-figure scoring efforts in each of the past six tilts. He is averaging 14.3 points on 48 percent from the field during the stretch.
“Bakari is starting to figure it out,” Woods said. “He’s been in a groove these past six games, and we need contributions from him for our team to be successful.”
Morehead State knocked down 57 percent (16-of-28) from the field in the first half, including 75 percent (15-of-20) inside the arc. The Eagles drilled 28-of-32 from the charity stripe for the evening, which matched a season high in terms of percentage.
Morehead State also committed just 11 turnovers, which was three shy of a season low. Senior Devon Atkinson recorded five of MSU’s 13 assists and the Eagles were credited with eight steals.
“The way we finished this game was much better than two nights ago,” Woods said. “We took care of the basketball down the stretch and made free throws, which was great to see.”
MSU posted a 29-25 rebounding advantage against TSU and a 20-10 upper hand in second-chance points. The Eagles are now +100 on the glass over the past nine affairs and have outrebounded eight opponents during the stretch.
“I knew we could be a pretty good rebounding team,” Woods said. “We have good size and depth, and our guys are taking a lot of pride in beating teams on the backboard.”
Saturday’s contest featured 14 ties and 11 lead changes. Neither team led by double figures.
Junior Patrick Miller paced three Tigers in double figures with 19 points on 9-of-10 from the foul line. Senior Kellen Thornton added 18 points for TSU, while classmate Jordan Cyphers tossed in 15.
Tennessee State found the bottom of the net on 64 percent (14-of-22) of its first-half attempts, but was limited to 36 percent (8-of-22) from the floor in the second stanza.
Morehead State continues OVC action on Thursday at Belmont. Tip-off from Curb Event Center is set for 8 p.m. ET. Live video, audio and statistics will be available via MSUEagles.com.
“We are looking forward to another crack at Belmont,” Woods said. “If we play the way we’ve been playing and focus on closing out games the right way, I think we’ll have a good chance.”