Photo by David Chamberlain / MTSU Sidelines
The tale of two halves is a tired sports mantra, but it could not be a better description for Middle Tennessee State’s 93-72 loss at Belmont Monday night.
The Blue Raiders hopped out to an early advantage and rode an excellent first half from Karl Gamble to take a 54-46 lead into halftime.
However, a 16-0 run to open the second half sunk MTSU with turnovers and poor shot selection was a recipe for disaster. MTSU shot an atrocious 20 percent from the field in the second half with 14 turnovers, more than Belmont had the entire game. The final tally from the second half was 46-19 in favor of the Bruins.
Karl Gamble led the Blue Raiders in scoring with 20 points, was 7-13 from the field and drilled a three-pointer too.
Belmont’s Dylan Windler had a big night with 34 points and 11 rebounds, and Nick Muszynski abused MTSU’s defense inside the paint with 18 points.
Defensive woes plague the second half
To say the Blue Raiders were bad on defense would be an understatement. Despite good nights in scoring, Gamble and Donovan Sims had trouble keeping up with Belmont’s offense.
James Hawthorne and Reggie Scurry constantly found themselves in foul trouble and got back late to Belmont’s inside offense.
Overall, the Bruins scored 56 points in the paint, a major key to Belmont’s big win.
Fatigue from the fast and furious first half may have played a part in some defensive mishaps, but Scurry and Hawthorne found themselves in big trouble early on in the game.
MTSU will need to be more disciplined for the season if they want any hope of picking up close wins against stronger opponents.
Chemistry and stamina off the mark
Defensive mistakes weren’t the only major cause in MTSU’s defeat. A grand total of 21 turnovers hung over a measly 10 assists for the Blue Raiders and lacked good ball movement in the final 20 minutes.
From those 21 turnovers, Belmont capitalized with 29 points off those giveaways.
With most of the team being fairly inexperienced and getting used to a new play-style, off-nights are sure to happen early, but an offensive implosion cannot happen in conference play. It’ll be up to head coach Nick McDevitt to keep the new kids on the block sharp between the ears.
The Blue Raiders will return home to play Charleston Southern from the Big South Conference on Friday night. The game will be an opportunity for the Blue Raiders to get back on track before embarking on a flight to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis.
To contact Sports Editor David Chamberlain, email firstname.lastname@example.org.