BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Senior Desmond Yates became the all-time leading scorer at Middle Tennessee in a historical afternoon for the Blue Raiders as they defeated Western Kentucky 84-74 on ESPN 2.
Needing just 22 points to claim the title going into Saturday’s game Yates scored 13 in the first half. A layup by Yates after a pass from senior Calvin O’Neil made him the all-time leading scorer at Middle Tennessee (11-10, 6-3) and extended the Blue Raider lead to nine with 1:07 to play.
“It feels good to break it against your rival and to get a win. I am happy to break it and it feels good but the most important thing is we won. I was told yesterday how close I was but it wasn’t on my mind I was just trying to score and get points on the board for Middle Tennessee,” Yates said.
The Sommerville, Tenn., native ended the game with 28 points after going 8 for 12 from the field and 9 for 10 at the charity stripe. Yates now has 1,629 points in his career passing Robert Taylor who scored 1,622 during his career (1989-93) at Middle Tennessee.
“What a great week for Middle Tennessee basketball. To beat your rival twice and a great road win at Monroe and Desmond Yates, who is one of my favorite guys to have ever coached, to have an opportunity to break the all-time scoring record on national television and a win to push you into first place it can’t get much better,” head coach Kermit Davis said. “We have a lot of work to do, a lot of improvements we need to make but we will take Sunday off and it will be a nice enjoyable weekend.”
The win over the Hilltoppers (11-8, 4-4) also gave Middle Tennessee the first regular season sweep since the 1974-75 season. In less than a calendar week the Blue Raiders defeated Western Kentucky at home and on the road.
The Blue Raiders shot 54.2 percent from the field in the game after shooting 60.9 percent in the second half. Junior James Washington scored 18 points while seniors Montarrio Haddock and O’Neil aided the defense with 14 and 11 points respectively.
Middle Tennessee performed very well on the defense as well holding the Hilltoppers to 43.9 percent shooting in the game. Haddock, Yates, Washington and junior Trevor Ottley each had four rebounds as the team grabbed 22 total.