MURFREESBORO - Middle Tennessee evened its season record at 2-2 with a fast-paced 74-66 win over visiting Lamar University Thursday night in Murphy Center. It was the Blue Raiders' fourth game in seven days to start the new season.
Junior guard James Washington led the Blue Raiders with 19 points and six assists, while senior forward Montarrio Haddock added 17 and six rebounds, and senior center Theryn Hudson had a season-high ten points and five rebounds.
Guard Rod Emanuel added nine points and a team-high seven rebounds.
Cardinal point guard Anthony Miles led his team with 19 points, while forward Charlie Harper had 17 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Kendrick Harris added 14 points for Lamar.
Middle Tennessee used a 23-6 run mid-way in the first half to take a 29-20 lead over the Cardinals. Lamar had used their height advantage and some outside shooting by Miles to take a 14-6 lead, but Haddock sparked a 12-0 surge to give the Blue Raiders an 18-14 advantage. Haddock had the last seven points in the run, and 13 in the first half.
The Blue Raiders led 37-31 at the half, and maintained a lead of four to eight points throughout the second half. After Lamar cut the Middle Tennessee lead to 52-47, the Blue Raiders went on a 14-5 run, culminated by a long three-pointer by Washington and a tip-in by Hudson to take a 66-52 lead, their largest of the game.
Lamar would cut the lead to 68-63 with 16 seconds left, but Washington and Emanual hit six consecutive free throws down the stretch to ice the win for Middle Tennessee.
The Blue Raiders out-rebounded the taller Cardinals, 36-33, while both teams had 15 turnovers as the fast pace of the game took its toll.
The Raiders shot 47.2 percent from the field on 25 of 53 shooting, and 69 percent from the free throw line, canning 20 of 29 attempts. Lamar shot 47.3 percent from the field, but only 47.4 percent from the line.
Head Coach Kermit Davis was happy with the win, but called his team "still a work in progress."
"This was our fourth game in seven days, and I thought their team had a little more pop than us in the first four or five minutes," said Davis. "We went through scoring droughts in the first half, then in the second half we got up by 14, then just shut down offensively."
Washington echoed his coach's sentiments.
"We would go up by 14, and then have a couple of costly turnovers. We've got to get better on defense. We need stops," said Washington. "We've got to shut teams out like this, especially at home. But I think we are getting a lot better and improving every day."
Middle Tennessee snaps a two-game losing streak with the win, and will now go back on the road for a game at North Carolina A&T on November 23rd, and will be back home again on November 27th against Cumberland.