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January 30, 2014

MTSU Cruises by ECU 84-67

MURFREESBORO, TN - Middle Tennessee had little difficulty beating undermanned East Carolina 84-67 Thursday night behind 22 points and 11 rebounds from Shawn Jones.

Tweety Knight scored 15 and Kerry Hammonds had 13 as the Blue Raiders improve to 14-7 and 4-2 in Conference USA while the Pirates fall to 11-10 for the season and 0-6 in league play.

The Pirates have lost six in a row and eight of the last nine games. Caleb White led five Pirates in double-figures with 18 points. Akeem Richmond was limited to just 12 points. Paris Roberts-Campbell scored 11 while Prince Williams had 12 and Michael Zangari tossed in 10 and pulled down five boards before fouling out in the second half.

Middle Tennessee jumped out to an early 10-5 lead in the first five minutes behind eight points from Kerry Hammonds. The Blue Raiders held a 19-10 cushion at the midway point on a Jaquan Raymond basket as ECU struggled to find good shot opportunities on their end of the floor.

A Shawn Jones tap-in advanced the Blue Raider lead to 23-10. Marcus Tarrence scored to make it 25-10. Point guard Tweety Knight then converted an ECU turnover into a lay-up for a 27-10 margin before Caleb White finally answered with a bucket for ECU.

Reggie Upshaw's dunk further ignited a small but noisy Blue Raider crowd for a 29-12 lead at the six minute mark in the first half as Middle connected on 50 percent of their shots in the first 14 minutes of the contest.

Jaquawn Raymond's stuff off of an ECU missed shot found Middle Tennessee up 33-14 at the four minute mark. Knight's lay-in extended the ECU nightmare to a 22-4 run as the Blue Raiders went up by a score of 38-16 with 2:30 to go in the first half.

Raymond closed out the half with a three-point bomb as time expired on the last possession of the half as Middle claimed a 41-22 halftime lead.

Jones, Raymond and Hammond had eight points at intermission. Caleb White and Mike Zangari had 6 apiece for ECU. The Blue Raiders led 22-8 on the glass in the first twenty minutes.

Michael Zangari pounded it in the paint and scored in the first two minutes of the second half for the Pirates. Richmond canned a three-pointer from the right corner for ECU to trim the MTSU lead to 16.

Kerry Hammond scored on a mid-range jumper and was fouled to quell the Pirates' threat early in the second half for a 51-32 lead five minutes into the second half. Prince Williams converted on a pair of possessions and Paris Roberts-Campbell cut the lead to 17 on a drive to the hoop. But Terrance scored on a three-point play and then hit one of two from the line on the subsequent trip down the floor for a 60-39 lead at the eleven minute point in second period.

Roberts-Campbell tossed in five quick points to lessen the MTSU lead to 16. Zangari kept it manageable at a 16 point game with a bucket before fouling out with 10 points with nine minutes to go. Richmond's third trey cut the lead to 14 with eight and a half to play at 65-51.White scored after a Blue Raider bucket and was fouled as the Pirates scratched back to within 13 with 7:19 to go. Richmond connected again from the arc to keep the game within 13.

But Middle extinguished ECU's comeback attempt with a three point play on a drive with 6:30 to play. Knight added to it on a fast break lay-in for a 75-57 margin. Knight wheeled and dealed in the lane with a left handed floater the next time down the floor for a twenty point lead with five minutes to go. They controlled the game the rest of the way.









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