NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The way Southeast Missouri State University's basketball season has gone, it seems like every game a different opposing hero emerges to take charge and hand the Indians a narrow defeat.
It was Garrett Richardson's turn Thursday.
The Tennessee State sophomore guard scored 20 second-half points and hit a late tie-breaking 3-pointer as the Tigers slipped past the visiting Indians 72-65 at the Gentry Center.
The Tigers, posting their second straight victory, improved to 8-12 overall and 4-5 in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Indians, winless on the road, fell to 3-17 and 1-8 as they suffered their sixth consecutive loss.
"It's the same old story," said Southeast coach Gary Garner. "We hang in there and hang in there and have a chance to win, but we just can't make the plays down the stretch that we have to have to win, and they make the plays."
One of the biggest plays down the stretch was made by Richardson, whose 3-pointer with 2:38 remaining put the Tigers ahead for good at 62-59. Ironically, that was TSU's only 3-point basket the entire night even though the Tigers rank second in the OVC in 3-pointers made at more than seven per game.
"We didn't have a good night shooting from outside, but I'm glad we got that one," said Richardson, who scored 10 points during a 14-5 TSU run that turned a 55-50 Southeast lead with 5:37 remaining into a 64-60 Tigers' advantage with just over two minutes to go.
The Tigers closed with an overall 22-10 spurt after Southeast, which trailed most of the night, had battled back to go up by five.
"Richardson made a big shot and he had a big second half," Garner said. "It seems like somebody always makes big plays against us."
Richardson wound up with 24 points as he hit 10 of 13 shots from the field. Kyle Rolston added 13 points for the Tigers while Josh Cooperwood had 10.
For Southeast, Tim Scheer led the way with 18 points and eight rebounds. Brett Hale had one of his stronger games in recent weeks and scored 14 points as he hit four of six 3-pointers. Monte Gordon added 12 points.
"We're so close, but so far," said Scheer of the Indians' numerous tough losses. "We play hard the whole game and get so close, but we lose it at the end. We just have to keep fighting and hopefully it will turn around."
Southeast, which trailed by 10 points late in the first half and 33-26 at the intermission, finally grabbed its first lead since the game's opening minutes as two Scheer free throws with 6:34 remaining made it 52-50.
Less than a minute later, Derek Winans' 3-pointer capped a 10-0 run and put the Indians ahead 55-50 as they appeared to have all the momentum.
Richardson scored five straight points -- Southeast tossed in two of its 14 turnovers during that stretch -- and his free throw with 4:47 left pulled TSU into a 55-55 tie.
The Indians went on to grab two more leads. Hale's 15-footer with 4:14 left made it 57-55 and Winans' follow shot at the 3:34 mark made it 59-57.
Richardson's basket with 3:22 left pulled TSU into a 59-59 tie and his 3-pointer less than a minute later put the Tigers ahead for good.
Southeast got no closer than two points the rest of the way, the final time coming on two Scheer free throws that made it 64-62 with 1:54 remaining. TSU hit six of six foul shots in the final minute to ice things.
"We had the two big turnovers after we went up by five that really hurt. And we missed some free throws," said Garner. "We keep shooting ourselves in the foot.
"I'll bet we've lost seven or eight games where, if we make one or two plays at key times late, we win the game. But we just don't make those plays and the other teams do."
While TSU hit just one of seven 3-point attempts, the Tigers sizzled overall from the field by making 29 of 48 for 60.4 percent, thanks in large part because they were able to penetrate for inside baskets most of the night.
"We were worried about penetration, but our plan was to take the three away," Garner said. "I really felt like if we could take the three away, we could beat them."
The Indians, who entered the contest sixth nationally in free-throw shooting at 77 percent, hit just 64 percent on 16 of 25.