NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Middle Tennessee (3-4) rallied late Tuesday night, but they would come up short against in-state rival Belmont (7-1) 63-59 to start a four-game road swing.
For the fifth time in their first seven games, the Blue Raiders used a different starting lineup.
MTSU started the lineup of DJ Jones, Giddy Potts, Jaqawn Raymond, Jacquez Rozier and Reggie Upshaw.
Turnovers and a poor shooting effort in the first half got the Blue Raiders in an early deficit. In the first half, they shot just 34 percent (9-of-26) from the field.
MTSU did, however, out-rebound the Bruins 19-13 in the opening frame with Rozier, Raymond and Potts grabbing three rebounds each. Belmont would lead 36-26 at halftime.
The bench proved to be huge in the first half. Middle Tennessee’s bench would score 11 of the team’s 26 first-half points, as the Blue Raiders used a 12-player rotation.
Marcus Tarrance came off the bench and scored seven points, leading the Blue Raiders at halftime.
At the beginning of the second half, Raymond sank his third three-pointer of the night which cut the Bruins’ lead to seven.
However, the Blue Raiders would go on a four-minute scoring drought that would see the Bruins’ lead swell to as much as 16 points. The drought would finally end on a tip-in off a rebound by Upshaw.
MTSU would battle back though and make the game interesting until the very end. The Blue Raiders would force a couple of Belmont turnovers and convert them into back-to-back three-pointers from Jones and Tarrance. These baskets would cut the Bruins’ lead to seven points with 10 minutes remaining in the game.
A fourth three-pointer by Raymond would bring the Blue Raiders to within four points. This forced Belmont to take a timeout to try and stop the Blue Raiders’ momentum. This capped a 15-3 run by the Blue Raiders in a four-minute timespan.
MTSU would cut the lead to one point several different times, but the free-throw line would prove to hurt the Blue Raiders.
They went 1-of-6 from the charity stripe which cost them opportunities to tie the game. They were not able to overcome these missed chances as Belmont went on to win the game.
The Blue Raiders were effective from the outside, shooting 43.5 percent from three-point range, making 10 total three-pointers.
Raymond led the way with his four three-pointers. Tarrance scored a team-high 14 points on the night, making 5-of-9 shots from the field and shooting 3-of-4 from behind the arc.
MTSU out-rebounded Belmont 43-30, and they would score 14 second-chance points.
Four Blue Raiders would score in double digits on the night. Tarrance (14), Raymond (12), Jones (11) and Upshaw (11) all achieved this mark.
The next stop on this four-game road swing will be at South Alabama on Saturday, December 6. Tip off will be at 1:05 p.m.
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