MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Middle Tennessee (11-8, 4-2 C-USA) earned another big win Thursday night with a 68-58 overtime victory over Old Dominion (15-3, 4-2 C-USA).
The Murphy Center was packed with 4,887 fans, giving the Blue Raiders a solid home court advantage. Coach Kermit Davis opened his postgame press conference with a remark about the Middle Tennessee fans.
“Number one, it was great to have the student body back,” Davis said after the overtime win. “It created a nice atmosphere, and it’s amazing to have enthusiastic students who know how to act in our arena. I was really proud of that, and our players really appreciated that.”
The first half was a power struggle, as neither team took advantage. Eight different Blue Raiders scored in the first half, and the team connected on five three-pointers to give them a 33-30 halftime lead.
The Blue Raiders would finish the game converting on 46 percent of their three-point shots, hitting 9-of-19 from deep.
MTSU hit the ground running in the second half, going on a quick 7-0 run to extend their lead to ten points. The Monarchs would respond by going on a 6-0 run of their own before the next media timeout. Strong defense ruled the next few minutes of the game, as both teams struggled to break down the opposition.
The Blue Raiders would regain their lead late in the game, extending it to 50-46 with just under four minutes to go. Old Dominion showed resilience, taking the lead with less than 30 seconds left in the game.
However, freshman guard Jacob Ivory proved to show poise, getting to the rim and scoring the tying basket with six seconds left to force overtime.
The start of the overtime was sluggish on both sides, with Old Dominion gaining a slight lead. Freshman Giddy Potts hit a three with just seconds left on the shot clock to take the lead for the Blue Raiders, which proved to kick start the offense.
The team stretched the lead with several free throws, leading to their 68-58 victory.
Ivory led the team with 12 points, including the key basket to send the game to overtime.
“The play broke down, and my instincts kicked in,” Ivory said of his last second shot. “Coach was yelling to drive, so I faked one way and went the other way and got to the basket.”
Ivory shot 3-of-6 from the field and also hit 6-of-7 shots from the charity stripe.
Fellow freshman Giddy Potts was pivotal for the Blue Raiders, hitting three big shots late in the game. The Athens, Alabama native ended the game with 11 points, while also grabbing seven rebounds.
“Coach really emphasized rebounding and made sure guards went down to rebound on the defensive end,” Potts said after the game. “We went down there and rebounded over the big guys.”
Junior college transfer Darnell Harris was also big for the Blue Raiders, scoring eight of his 11 points in the first half, including two three-pointers. The junior forward also grabbed six rebounds.
Jaqawn Raymond finished in double figures for the second straight game. The junior hit four big free throws to extend the overtime lead and seal the Blue Raider victory. Raymond finished with 10 points, including 4-of-4 from the free throw line.
The Blue Raiders were out-rebounded in the first half by a margin of 19 to 11, but proved to step up the intensity after the half by out-rebounding Old Dominion in the second half, and overtime, 37-36.
The Blue Raiders also forced 12 turnovers, scoring 14 points off of takeaways.
Trey Freeman scored a game-high 18 points for the Monarchs, finishing on 7-of-19 shooting. Denzell Taylor was the only other Monarch to score in double figures, finishing with 12 points. Taylor also grabbed seven rebounds and had two steals.
The Blue Raiders will look to maintain their momentum as they take on the Charlotte 49ers at the Murphy Center on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. CT.
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