Blue Raiders defense shines late in conference win against Charlotte
By Daniel Johnson
MTN Sports Reporter
February 5, 2021
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — A back and forth battle all game ended with a steal, two clutch free throws by MTSU junior guard Jalen Jordan, and a team defensive stop in the final seconds as the Blue Raiders knocked off Charlotte 66-65 on Friday night.
The Blue Raiders ended a lengthy six game losing skid with a home victory against Charlotte. Junior guard Dontrell Shuler led the way in scoring for the Raiders with 16 points on an efficient, 6-for-8 shooting. Junior guards Jordan Davis and Jalen Jordan pitched in 10 points.
A matchup with several lead changes, MT struggled early on in the first half going nearly the first 4:00 without a field goal. Despite the slow start and turnovers, the Blue Raiders were able to get baskets in transition and close out the half on an 8-0 run, taking a 32-29 lead into the locker room.
“We just stayed together, we as a group, I would say the past couple games, we’ve had a good first half”, said guard Jalen Jordan. “We tend to relax a little bit, but coach’s message to us was to keep playing hard, staying together, and playing as one.”
Much like throughout this season, adversity struck the Blue Raiders. At around the 10:00 mark in the 2nd half, guard Dontrell Schuler went up for a layup but landed awkwardly on his knee. He did not return to the game.
“We’ll have him evaluated if not tonight, but first thing in the morning”, said MT coach Nick McDevitt. “Certainly, our thoughts are with him and hoping for the best.”
Blue Raider fans were certainly happy to be back in Murphy Center for the first time this season. The team was able to feed off the “glass house” energy.
“I thought it was long overdue”, said Coach McDevitt. “Just thankful to our school administration working diligently to get our fans back in here. When you’re getting haymakers thrown at you during the course of the game, to get somebody behind you felt awfully good.”
The Blue Raiders have been hit by adversity in all forms so far this season. From injuries, Covid-19 protocols, and limited practice time, this team continues to have the “next man up” mentality.
“Coach preaches that to us every day”, said Jalen Jordan. “Always stay ready. We have a bunch of tough guys on our team who are always ready. Whenever your name is called, just stay ready to play and we have a bunch of guys who are willing to do whatever it takes to win.”
Middle Tennessee will look to complete the two-game home sweep of the 49ers Saturday afternoon. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m.