MTSU Mounts Massive 24 Point Comeback to Beat FIU

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Photo Via MT_MBB on Twitter

FINAL:

MTSU – 69
FIU – 58

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – It was white out night in Murfreesboro as MTSU welcomed FIU to The Glass House to try to avenge a January loss suffered in Miami and to improve their position for seeding in the CUSA tournament.

Middle connected on their first shot of the night to take a 3-0 lead but that was it for the next six minutes for the Raiders before Coleman-Jones broke through with a nice spin move that had been working for him of late. That scoring drought allowed FIU to jump out to a 16-5 lead. By just past the halfway point in the first period, FIU had extended that lead to 33-9. Middle couldn’t get anything going on offense with a lack of good looks and a plethora of unforced errors. The Panthers shooting around 70 percent didn’t help things either. A lead like that isn’t a quick fix. Middle was going to have to chip away on offense and keep grinding on defense to see just how sustainable this offensive production was for FIU.

The Raiders did just that. As FIU regressed to 48 percent shooting, Middle cut the lead to 13 on the back of a 10-0 run. By the end of the half MTSU would go into the locker room down just 14 after being down by as much as 24. The Raiders had their work cut out for them in the second half, but if they could minimize the unforced errors and contest shots they would have a good chance to get back in the game at home where they had won 27 of their last 29.

Middle came out strong on defense and dominated the first five minutes of the half. They had successfully cut the lead to six. They were settling in and starting to take control, but they had to keep on the gas if they wanted to keep The Panthers down and not let them breathe. After an impressive three-point play from Cam Weston, the crowd in the Murphy Center was starting to come alive, fueling The Raiders’ defense to force a shot clock violation.

Middle, smelling blood, went down the floor and Elias King hit a three in front of the MTSU bench that blew the roof off of The Glass House as The Raiders had cut the lead to 47-46 with 12 minutes to play.

 

At 11:26, Middle took its first lead since 17:35 in the first half. The Raiders had come all the way back to defend their home floor. The Panthers were not going to fold as they fought back to regain their lead. After four minutes of some back-and-forth scoring, FIU held a two-point advantage with six minutes to play, and it was anyone’s game.

Who was going to make the big shots down the stretch? Which team would avoid the costly mistakes? The Raiders were getting good looks that continued to roll and rattle out while FIU on the other end was turning the ball over and getting blocked and stopped by the tenacious Blue Raider defense. Neither team could break through until DeAndre Dishman tied the game at 58 with two free throws with three and a half minutes remaining.

MTSU then started to pull away and built up a four-point lead and that was all FIU Head Coach, Jeremy Ballard, needed to see before calling a timeout to stop the bleeding. With two minutes to go, whichever team responded the best coming out of this huddle was going to win. MTSU came out of the timeout and slammed the door shut on The Panthers as FIU failed to score another point, as Middle held them scoreless in the last six minutes and 28 seconds. MTSU, after being down 24, won the game by a final score of 69-58.

Arturo Dean led all scorers with 15 points. Cam Weston led The Blue Raiders with 14. Jared Coleman-Jones led all players with nine rebounds, while Petar Krivokapic led FIU with six. Dean led all players with three assists, and Eli Lawrence led MTSU with two.

This is what Head Coach, Nick McDevitt, had to say post game:

The Blue Raiders’ next game is against LA Tech, in Murfreesboro, at 3:00pm on Saturday.

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