DENTON, Texas – Middle Tennessee started fast, but made critical mistakes in the final minutes Saturday in a 57-56 defeat at North Texas.
It was MTSU’s third-straight loss and fifth out of its last six games.
The Blue Raiders (13-13, 6-7 C-USA) were strong in the first half, stretching their lead numerous times. MTSU led by as many as 14 before the under-four media timeout.
Senior guard Marcus Tarrance scored nine of his 11 points in the first half, including a three with under a minute remaining to push the lead to 17. Middle Tennessee led at the half by a score of 37-18.
The second half was a complete flip for the Blue Raiders.
A pair of baskets by sophomore Reggie Upshaw pushed the lead to 21, but the Mean Green slowly chipped away over the remaining minutes.
The Blue Raiders led by ten after the final media timeout of the game, but turnovers and missed free throws left the door open for UNT.
With 16 seconds left, a foul on Upshaw resulted in a pair of made free throws by Deandre Harris to give North Texas the lead, 55-54.
Upshaw responded with a layup that gave MTSU the lead with under ten seconds remaining. A pair of Harris free throws in the final two seconds sealed the win for UNT, 57-56.
The Blue Raiders were solid in nearly every category of the game. Middle Tennessee finished the night shooting 21-of-47 from the field (47 percent), compared to the 18-of-48 (38 percent) that North Texas shot.
MTSU also finished strong inside, scoring 26 points in the paint compared to UNT’s 18.
In the end, Middle Tennessee’s free-throw shooting proved to be the dagger, where they finished just 9-of-16 (56 percent).
North Texas made twice as many free throws, shooting 18-of-28 (64 percent) from the line.
Only two Blue Raiders finished in double-figures Saturday night. Upshaw led Middle Tennessee with 12 points and nine rebounds. Tarrance continued his hot streak with 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting.
Jordan Williams led North Texas (11-13, 5-7 C-USA) with a game-high 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Williams also added five rebounds.
Colin Voss finished with ten points for the Mean Green, including a perfect 6-of-6 from the charity stripe.
The Blue Raiders look to end their losing streak Thursday as they return to the Murphy Center to take on Marshall. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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