Story by Trevor Aldridge / Staff Writer
Middle Tennessee State 7-23 (3-14) fell to UTEP 16-14 (7-10) by the narrow margin of 60-56 Wednesday night at the Murphy Center.
“I thought our team competed, played hard and battled for a good portion of the night,” said MTSU Head Coach Nick McDevitt.
The Blue Raiders found good shots early but struggled to convert them, shooting just 31% from the floor in the first half.
The defense kept them in the game, however, and a run of five straight points by senior Reggie Scurry held the UTEP lead to just two at the half with a score of 26-24.
The Miners built an eight-point lead early in the second half, but a stretch of hot shooting from junior CJ Jones that included five made three-pointers allowed MTSU to briefly take a 51-50 lead at the six-minute mark.
UTEP reclaimed the lead on the following possession and did not relinquish it the rest of the way. The Miners were led by guard Daryl Edwards, who scored a game-high 25 points on 11-18 shooting and logged nearly 38 minutes on the floor.
Jones finished as the leading scorer for the Blue Raiders with 22 points on 6-9 shooting from three. Scurry was productive as well with 17 points.
“When CJ is making shots like he was tonight, the basket just kept getting bigger. You try to feed that and I thought Reggie was able to work close to the basket. Late in games, you’re trying to get to the free-throw line and get some easy ones. The easy ones are Reggie at the rim or him (Jones) shooting open threes,” said McDevitt.
Offensively, the Blue Raiders failed to get much production outside of Jones and Scurry, as the rest of the team scored just 17 points and shot a combined 6-26 from the floor.
Though he did not attempt a field goal, sophomore guard Anthony Crump made a positive impact for MTSU with a team-best plus/minus of +9.
The Blue Raiders were already eliminated from qualifying for the Conference USA Tournament coming into the night, so MTSU will play their final game of the season at home on Saturday against Southern Miss. It will be senior night for Scurry and Antonio Green.
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