Story by Calvin White / Contributing Writer
Eli Lawrence was the catalyst of a second half surge that helped lead MTSU to victory over the Monarchs of Old Dominion. Lawrence set the tone for the Blue Raiders’ 63-48 win while Donovan Sims had a special night of his own.
Riding a 12 game home winning streak, MTSU found themselves in a slugfest early against a tough and physical Old Dominion team. The first half would conclude with the two teams knotted at 30, but the halftime score was not the headline of this game. Fifth year senior and Murfreesboro native, Donovan Sims, scored his 1,000 point in a Blue Raider jersey. Sims is also only the third player in program history to score at least 1,000 points, dish out 300 assists, and snag 100 steals.
Being a hometown kid playing for his hometown team, Sims is extremely grateful to be a part of the program and to be a Blue Raider.
“Being from Murfreesboro it’s always a blessing to play where you grew up,” Sims said. “The team that we have this year for my final season, I love those guys a lot and I probably don’t tell them enough but I will start telling them that a lot more throughout the season because we are kind of in the home stretch but these dudes mean a lot to me and I’m glad to have them by my side.”
The Blue Raiders opened the second half on a 20-0 run. Old Dominion shot 0-for-8 from beyond the arc in the second half and 24 percent overall while MT drained 10 shots from long distance compared to the Monarchs’ two for the entire contest.
After a tough first half, Middle Tennessee head coach Nick McDevitt explained how his team played so well in the second half.
“There wasn’t really anybody out there asleep defensively,” McDevitt said. “We were alert to our personnel scout but also the team scout. Our guys were kind of recognizing what was coming and then the action takes place and they were alert. I thought we were back to really guarding.”
Eli Lawrence scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half and scored 13 as a part of the 20-0 run to start the half. Old Dominion didn’t score for the final 7:41 of game time and were held to just 18 total points in the second half.
Lawrence spoke about how he impacted the game. “I’ve been waiting on one of these type of games,” Lawrence said. “It just felt more important because I turned the game, I feel like, in my opinion. I just know my defensive pressure and energy just helps us win.”
After the game, Lawrence, Sims, and McDevitt made it a point to recognize the Blue Zoo student section, saying “You saw where they went to as soon as the game was over, to thank the students for showing up,” McDevitt said. “It was great having them down there. It’s always fun playing in front of your fellow classmates, the people that you cross campus with each day walking to and from class. They affected the game and we need them back here on Sunday.”