HOUSTON, TX. – Middle Tennessee (13-12, 6-6 CUSA) put forth a valiant effort, but ultimately fell in double overtime 71-68 at Rice (8-15, 5-6 CUSA).
The Blue Raiders struggled offensively in the first half, trailing 9-0 before tallying their first point on a free throw by Marcus Tarrance. Middle Tennessee would trail by as many as 11 in the first half, finding it difficult to cut into the Rice lead. The Blue Raiders would cut their deficit to nine heading into halftime, trailing 27-18 at the break.
In the second half, things looked grim for the Blue Raiders. Middle Tennessee would start with the first basket of the second frame, but couldn’t come within eight. Rice would respond, by extending their lead to 14, making the score 46-32 just before the under-8 media timeout. With the Blue Raiders trailing by nine with two minutes left in the game, Jaqawn Raymond poured in a three and three free throws to cut the lead to three. Reggie Upshaw tied the game, forcing overtime, with a layup with under ten seconds left in regulation.
The first overtime was back and forth battle, with neither team gaining an edge. The Blue Raiders led by as many as three, but the Owls would respond, taking another lead with under a minute left. A layup by Marcus Tarrance in the final seconds forced a second overtime.
The Blue Raiders took the lead to start the second overtime thanks to a dunk by Reggie Upshaw. Rice would once again respond, tying the game at 68, and three free throws down the stretch would secure the win 71-68.
Neither team had a shooting advantage on the night. The Blue Raiders finished 21-of-53 in the game, shooting 40 percent. Rice finished 21-of-51, shooting a slightly better 41 percent.
The Blue Raiders struggled with possession the entire game, turning the ball over an astounding 22 times. The Owls scored 21 points off those turnovers.
Middle Tennessee held advantages in several categories, and will surely try to maintain those advantages in their next contest. The Blue Raiders outrebounded Rice 46-25, including 30 defensive boards. MT would also shoot 88 percent from the line, 23-of-26 on the night.
Jaqawn Raymond led the Blue Raiders on the night, finishing with 16 points including ten free throws. Reggie Upshaw finished with a double-double Thursday night, scoring 13 points, and grabbing 13 rebounds.
Marcus Jackson scored a game-high 24 points for Rice, also grabbing six rebounds. Max Guercy finished with 16 points in the game for the Owls.
The Blue Raiders will look to rebound on Saturday as they face North Texas in Denton, Texas on a Valentine’s Day matchup. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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