Photo by Alan Hubbard / Gorhody.com
Story by Carl Coates Jr. / Contributing Writer
The Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (3-10) and Rhode Island Rams (7-5) faced off for the first time in program history on Sunday evening with Rhode Island winning by a score of 72-60.
Coming off an embarrassing loss to former head coach Kermit Davis and the Ole Miss Rebels, the Raiders entered the Ryan Center in Rhode Island looking to snap a long eight-game losing streak and to capture their first road victory of the season.
In a battle of first-year head coaches, coach Nick McDevitt and the Blue Raiders were in desperate need for a spark before heading into conference play.
Middle Tennessee was unable to slow down the second half push from the Rams. The growing pains continue, as the Raiders have now dropped nine games in a row.
Antonio Green adds another solid performance to resume
The junior guard recorded his seventh 20 point performance of this season, ending the game with 26 points on 10-19 shooting from the field.
Once again, Green began the game shooting the ball confidently from three-point range. Most of his attempts came off screens and were heavily contested by Rhode Island guards.
The Raiders’ leading scorer, he recorded 11 points within the opening seven minutes of the first half half. Of those 11 points, nine came from behind the three point line.
However, Green would connect on only two triples in the second half because of the level of aggressive defense displayed by the Rams.
Donovan Sims finds offensive rhythm
After only averaging 6.9 points throughout the entire season, sophomore point guard Donovan Sims became more aggressive on the offensive end against Rhode Island.
Not only did he double his season average in points, finishing with 15 points on 5-11 shooting, he seemed to take a step forward in his overall development as a young player.
Sims joined Green in his contribution to the Raiders success from behind the arc by shooting 75 percent on 3-4 attempts.
He also was aggressive on the boards as he pulled in six rebounds on the night.
MTSU cools down in the second half
After going into halftime down 29-27, MTSU came out with a sense of urgency and seemed to be taking control. However, the lead quickly vanished.
The Rams retook the lead with 12:45 remaining in the second half on a made free-throw from sophomore guard Fatts Russell .
After trailing by as much as 8 points in the beginning of the second, the Rams stretched the lead to 16 with nearly 6:45 remaining in the game.
It was a tale of two halves in terms of shooting for MTSU. After making 6-8 from deep in the first, the the Raiders went a dismal 3-13 to close out the second.
Not being able to continue the hot shooting streak hurt Middle Tennessee’s chances of a comeback.
To begin the schedule for 2019, MTSU will host the FIU Panthers Thursday, Jan 3. This will be the first game on their Conference USA schedule.