ATHENS, Ohio – Middle Tennessee’s slow start to the halves and early foul trouble hurt it in an 81-68 loss to Ohio on Sunday afternoon.
The Blue Raiders were outscored 11-0 in the first five minutes of each half and while they closed the gap could never get within more than four-points in either half.
Middle Tennessee had three players foul out in a game that had a total of 53 personal fouls between the two schools.
Senior Montarrio Haddock posted a career-high 25 points as he was 9 for 16 overall. Haddock was a perfect 4 for 4 from the charity stripe and 3 for 6 from behind the arc. Haddock also led the team in rebounds with seven all of which were on defense.
“I don’t know that I have even been involved in a game where we started the first five minutes in each half down 11-0. We did a great job at the end of the first half to get it to four. I don’t think the team trusts the offense right now but we had great resilience when we got down and cut their lead to five twice,” head coach Kermit Davis said.
Freshman J.T. Sulton posted 14 points while going 6 for 7 from the field. Sulton also pulled down three rebounds and had one steal.
Junior James Washington was the only other player in double figures with 11 points with a good night from the free throw line going 4 for 4.
“This is a learning experience for our new guys since it is their first road trip. I told the team it is November and the season ends in March. There are a lot of games left in the season and this road trip will be very good for our team,” Davis said.
Senior Theryn Hudson and junior Rod Emanuel aid the defense grabbing five rebounds each as the team had 32 total rebounds in the game, 24 of which were defensive.
Free throws aided the Blue Raiders as shot 87.1 percent from behind the line shooting a perfect 6 for 6 in the second half.
Ohio ended the night shooting 48 percent from the field going 24 for 50 and 75 percent from the free throw line after making 15 of 17 in the second half.
The Bobcats had 39 total rebounds in the game 28 of which were on the defensive side of the ball.
Ohio extended its lead to 17, 51-34, to begin the second half after scoring 13 unanswered points.
Middle Tennessee’s first points of the second half were two free throws by Washington. Washington then hit a jumper and three-pointer to put two field goals on the board for the Blue Raiders making it 53-41 at the 13 minute mark.
Over a five minute period the Blue Raiders outscored Ohio 15-7 to cut the lead to 7 points, 60-53. Later, a jumper by Sulton put Middle Tennessee within seven-points, 69-62 with 3:46 remaining.
Middle Tennessee started slow for the second straight game to open the 2009-10 season. Ohio took an 11-0 run to begin the game with the Blue Raiders not scoring a field goal until 15:36 after a layup by O’Neil.
The Blue Raiders had a number of turnovers at the beginning of the game which hurt its offensive opportunities.
After a Haddock basket at 10:30 Middle Tennessee’s next seven points were scored off free throws and it did not get another field goal until the 4:56 mark.
The Blue Raiders who trailed by as many as 13 cut the Ohio lead to four at halftime, 38-34. Middle Tennessee outscored the Bobocats 13-2 to end the first half.
Middle Tennessee will not have much time to prepare for its next game as it will travel to Huntingdon, W.V. on Monday for its game Tuesday. The Blue Raiders will face Marshall on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 6 p.m. CST.