Nashville, TN- Blue Raider transfer guard C.J. Jones had his signature performance in an MTSU uniform as his six three-point buckets resulted in 23 points. The sixth shot from behind the arc with only 20 seconds remaining was the most important as it gave the Blue Raiders (2-0) a lead that they never surrendered and led to their thrilling 73-70 win over the Lipscomb Bison (1-1) on Saturday.
The Blue Raiders started the game off slow and timid as they found themselves down 7-2 early as a result of three early turnovers. However, MT slowed down and took control over the game later in the half when they found their stroke from the beyond the arc. Jones (23 points, six rebounds) hit his first three attempts from behind the perimeter and Tyler Millin hit a pair of open wing three’s as well to give the Blue Raiders a 23-20 lead after the under-eight timeout in the first half.
While the Blue Raiders were warming up, the Bisons were cooling off. The Bisons saw plenty of open three-point looks but couldn’t get any of them to fall as they hit only four of their 16 first half attempts. To make matters worse for Lipscomb, the Bisons big-man and preseason All A-Sun forward Ahsan Asadullah picked up his second foul with 11:45 left in the half and sat through much of the frame’s final ten minutes due to the foul trouble.
The Blue Raiders took full advantage of Lipscomb’s misfortunes and led by as many as 13 points in the first half before a late run resulted in the Bisons cutting the lead to 37-31 at halftime.
MT continued their hot shooting and maintained a kid through most of the second half but turnovers and giving up offensive rebounds plagued them late and allowed Lipscomb to make a push.
In a five minute stretch that spanned from the eight minute mark to the three and a half minute mark, the Blue Raiders committed five turnovers without managing a bucket. Lipscomb took full advantage and went on a 12-0 run fueled by three’s from Michael Buckland and Jake Wolfe. Lipscomb regained the lead for the first time since the 16 minute mark of the first half as they led 63-60 with 3:24 remaining.
With the game tied at 66 with one minute left, Asadullah knocked down a baby hook shot to give the Bisons a late lead and ignite the Lipscomb crowd. On the next possession, Jones ran around a set of screens before catching the ball at the top of the key and promptly draining the shot with 20 seconds left to give the Blue Raiders a 69-68 lead.
Lipscomb turned the ball over in the ensuing possession and fouled Antonio Green who promptly flushed a pair of free throws to push the MT advantage to three. Both teams exchanged late game free throws but the Bisons still found themselves down three when they called a timeout with two seconds left.
On the ensuing inbounds play, Kaleb Coleman threw up a prayer at the buzzer and the shot was well short to hand the Blue Raiders their second win of the season and advance to 2-0.
The Blue Raiders return to Murphy Center to take on Division II opponent Mars Hill on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m.
To contact Sports Editor Elijah Campbell, email firstname.lastname@example.org.