A spectacular offensive performance in which five Blue Raiders scored in double figures led to a 99-90 win against Marshall and a berth in Saturday’s Conference USA Championship game.
Reggie Upshaw had another spectacular night, going for 17 points, nine rebounds and three assists and became the 32nd member of Middle Tennessee’s 1,000-point club with a free throw early in the contest.
JaQawn Raymond led Middle Tennessee with 20 points, tying his career high. Perrin Buford added 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists while Giddy Potts totaled 13 points and Darnell Harris pitched in with 12.
Middle Tennessee (23-9, 13-5 C-USA) shot 58.5 percent on the night and dominated Marshall (17-16, 12-6 C-USA) down low with 50 points in the paint, putting the Herd in foul trouble and leading to a season-high 31 made free throws for the Blue Raiders.
Marshall opened the game with a three-pointer before Middle Tennessee answered with a couple of triples of their own to take a 6-3 lead early on.
The Herd controlled the next few minutes of the contest, taking an 18-13 lead at the 10:41 mark before the Blue Raider offense came alive.
Middle rallied to cut the lead to two at 20-18 but Marshall answered with a basket to extend the lead back to four.
The Raiders then went on a 13-0 run to go on top by a score of 31-22 and didn’t slow down for the remainder of the first half.
Marshall was able to close the gap to six but a foul followed by a technical gave the Raiders four free throws and a 10-point lead after converting all four.
Middle Tennessee carried the 10-point advantage into the locker room, leading 39-29 through 20 minutes of action.
For the second consecutive night the Raiders came out of the locker room on fire, putting up 16 points in the first four minutes of the half and taking a 55-39 lead at the 16:01 mark.
Marshall began to raise the tempo for the remainder of the game, but the Blue Raiders had an answer for every Marshall basket for the remainder of the night.
Middle poured in 60 points in the second half while shooting 76.9 percent to fend off the Herd in the high-paced battle.
The Blue Raiders put an exclamation point on the contest when Raymond and Upshaw threw down dunks on back-to-back possessions to put the Blue Raiders ahead 96-79 with just 90 seconds to play.
With a comfortable lead in hand, Davis began to pull his starters from the game to standing ovations from a high energy Blue Raider crowd that pushed the team all game long.
Middle Tennessee will battle No. 5 seeded Old Dominion on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. for the Conference USA Championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Read More
Recap: No. 5 Old Dominion’s C-USA All-Conference First Team guard Jennie Simms led the Lady Monarchs past UTEP, 66-54, on Friday afternoon at Legacy Arena, earning a spot in the Conference USA Championship game on Saturday.
Simms earned her second double-double of the year and led the Lady Monarchs with a game-best 21 points and 10 boards. Ije Ajemba and Gianna Smith both added 14 and 10, respectively, while Destinee Young reeled in a game-high 12 boards. A 23-10 lead at the 5:34 mark in the second proved to be enough as the Lady Monarchs’ first half showing was too much for the Miners to overcome. To open the contest, Old Dominion shot 41.2 percent while holding UTEP to a mere 4-of-22 showing (18.2 percent).
With 4:02 to play in the opening half, the Monarchs extended its lead to 17 points, its largest of the day.
UTEP refused to go quietly as it used a 12-5 run to cut the ODU lead to four, 38-34, to open the third period. The Miners were on fire, shooting 4-of-7 from the floor, while forcing five ODU turnovers.
With 2:37 to play in the third, Jenzel Nash, an All-C-USA First Team selection, tied the game at 40-all. Neither squad refused to back down, going bucket for bucket to close out the third.
In the final 10 minutes, ODU fought tooth and nail to regain its lead as it outscored UTEP 20-12 to take down the No. 1 seed, 66-54.