Photo by Brent Beerends // MT Athletic Communications
Darnell Harris, Perrin Buford, and Jaqawn Raymond started their final game at the Glass House on Saturday night, as Middle Tennessee (19-9, C-USA 11-5) hosted C-USA rival Marshall (15-14, C-USA 11-5).
The Middle Tennessee seniors rallied their teammates in their 83-74 victory over the Thundering Herd, after two-straight conference losses to UAB and Western Kentucky.
All three seniors had outstanding performances to close out their Blue Raider career at the Glass House.
Buford scored game-high 21 points along with five rebounds and four assists. Harris registered 18 points and was perfect from behind the arc, shooting 4-for-4. Raymond provided energy all night long with three steals, four assists, and picked up eight points, as well.
“We definitely didn’t want to lose on senior night. Losing three in a row wouldn’t have been the end of the world but we were fighting for seeding tonight. All we had to do was come out and get the job done,” Buford said.
The atmosphere was electric to begin the game, as Raymond and Harris sparked the offensive firepower early and often. The Blue Raiders set the tone with efficiency and high-percentage shots from beyond the arc. The Blue Raiders played as a cohesive unit, unlike their two previous games.
“They had lost their ownership of the team. They weren’t playing for each other like they had all year long. We kind of lost our way. We got back to making toughness plays tonight. It was a good team win,” head coach Kermit Davis said.
The Thundering Herd were rattled by the Blue Raiders dominate offensive performance. Marshall struggled to get into a rhythm from long range. They attempted to work inside the paint but could not keep pace with Middle Tennessee.
“I just wanted to come out with energy and a lot of passion to get my team going. We had faced a lot of adversity this week, and we knew the only way to go was up,” Harris said.
A vicious dunk by Buford registered a massive roar from the crowd and ignited the Blue Raiders offense, while propelling the Blue Raiders to a 12-4 run heading into halftime.
A lid was on the basket for the Blue Raiders, as they were converting on only 30 percent of their shots.
The Thundering Herd took advantage of the poor shooting by MTSU and tied the game after trailing by as many as 12 points.
“You’re going to go through adversity, it’s about you and your team and what you’re going to do. How you respond to adversity, and I feel like me and my teammates continued to attack and be sound on defense,” Buford said.
The Blue Raiders were able to rediscover their rhythm they had established in the first half with the game on the line, thanks to the leadership of Harris and Buford.
The dagger came from a Reggie Upshaw three-pointer off an assist from Buford. The Blue Raiders held off the Thundering Herd and secured the victory, 83-74.
“There’s only one way to have a great senior night and that’s win. That’s the only way. You don’t have to do anything special, just do what you do,” Coach Davis said.
The Blue Raiders will take their final road trip before the C-USA Tournament next weekend. They will start the road trip against Florida Atlantic on Thursday night at 6PM.
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