Photo by Tyler Lamb / Sports Editor
The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders put their 8-game winning streak on the line when they took on Virginia Commonwealth in Richmond, Virginia. The matchup was back-and-forth the entire second half, but the streak that started on Nov. 22 over Toledo concluded in an 80-77 loss on Saturday.
The offense struggled early, leading to a 7-0 lead by the Rams before the game’s first timeout. VCU continued their offensive dominance by building a 19-6 lead at the 12:38 mark in the first half. MTSU was held in check early on, as the Rams’ press gave the Blue Raiders issues that they hadn’t experienced this season.
When they finally figured out how to break the press, the Blue Raiders managed to score more consistently.
The offense finally came alive when Giddy Potts sunk two free throws to start the Blue Raider run to get back into the game. Potts made three of his four attempts from deep in the first half, en route to a game-leading 17 points.
The Blue Raiders took their first lead of the game on Potts’ third three with 53 seconds to go in the half. VCU answered with a layup from Samir Doughty just before the clock expired to go into halftime with a 38-37 lead.
The second half went back and forth between the two teams as both failed to break away from the other. The Blue Raiders built a five-point lead on a Reggie Upshaw 3-pointer at the 14:26 mark. The Rams answered back with an 8-0 run to grab a brief three-point lead.
Free throws became the difference in the game, as the Rams knocked down nine of their final 12 free throw attempts. MTSU struggled for a majority of the game, only converting 15-of-24 possible attempts. Potts had an opportunity to send the game to overtime with a last-second, highly contested three. However, the ball hit off the back of the rim and the Rams claimed the victory in front of a capacity crowd at the Siegel Center.
Potts finished with a game-high 25 points on five 3-pointers. JaCorey Williams contributed his third straight double-double with 17 points and a season-high 14 rebounds. Reggie Upshaw scored 15 and Tyrik Dixon added a career-high 12 points.
VCU was led by JeQuan Lewis who tallied 20 points. Mo Alie-Cox added 15 points and Samir Doughty chipped in 14 points off the bench.
The Blue Raiders will be back in action at home on December 21 against the Georgia State Panthers with tip-off at 6:30 p.m.
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