Middle Tennessee (8-7, 1-1 C-USA) played solid on all fronts Thursday night in Murphy Center, capturing their first conference win on the season 65-52 over Florida International (8-7, 1-1 C-USA).
The Blue Raiders were on their game from the opening tip, relinquishing the lead only once on the night, and they did not trail from the 13:39 point of the first half to the end of the game.
Freshman Edward Simpson would lead MTSU on the night, scoring his 14 points off the bench, while adding three rebounds and grabbing three steals. Sophomore Reggie Upshaw would also be key off the bench on the night, scoring 11 points while grabbing a team-high six rebounds.
Dennis Mavin led the charge for the FIU offense Thursday night, scoring a game-high 31 points while adding three rebounds. Mavin was the only bright spot for the Panthers, who had almost no production from their bench, the only two points coming from Jason Boswell.
The Blue Raider bench was a different story, scoring 35 points, more than their starting five tallied on the night. That balanced offense proved pivotal to extending the lead in the second half and finishing strong.
At the under- 12 timeout, Middle Tennessee only led 16-11, but a strong final 11 minutes and a 19-11 run led to a 35-22 advantage at the half.
The second half of the night was even, but that consistency proved important for the Blue Raiders and catapulted them to a strong home win. Middle Tennessee would extend their lead to as many as 21 down the stretch and found ways to keep the fire going offensively. They would continue to battle every run that FIU could muster.
The three was key for the Blue Raiders as well, as they shot a blistering 47 percent from behind-the-arc, finishing 8-of-17 on the night. The Blue Raiders would also shoot 52 percent from the field on 25-of-48 shooting.
Middle Tennessee will look to add another conference win as they face Florida Atlantic in the Murphy Center on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
For more Blue Raider sports, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @Sidelines_Sport.
To contact sports editor Connor Grott, email firstname.lastname@example.org.