Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition
No. 25 Owls come up short against Blue Raiders
Camryn Weston scored 16 points, Elias King added 15 and Middle Tennessee State beat No. 25 Florida Atlantic 74-70 on Thursday night for the Blue Raiders’ first win over a ranked opponent since 2016.
Middle Tennessee (16-11, 9-7 Conference USA) avenged an 85-67 loss to then-No. 21 FAU on Jan. 26 in its first home game against a ranked team since the 2008-09 season.
Middle Tennessee’s previous victory over an Associated Press Top 25 squad came on March 18, 2016, against No. 2 Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament.
“Anytime you beat a Top 25 team, you’ve played well,” MTSU coach Nick McDevitt said. “Our prep was for sure the best it’s been all year.”
The Blue Raiders led 56-41 with 10 minutes left as FAU (24-3, 14-2) made just four of its first 12 shots after halftime. FAU rallied to get within 61-54 on a 3-pointer by Michael Forrest with 4 minutes, 22 seconds left as Middle Tennessee went without a field goal for four-plus minutes.
FAU twice got within three in the final minute, on 3-pointers by Alijah Martin and Jalen Gaffney, but Middle Tennessee made free throws at the other end each time to regain a two-possession lead.
Eli Lawrence finished with 13 points and Justin Bufford had 12 for Middle Tennessee.
Middle Tennessee went scoreless in the final three minutes of the first half but scored eight straight points in the opening 2:13 of the second half. The Blue Raiders added another 8-0 run for the first double-digit lead of the game at 47-36.
Martin, the Conference USA Player of the Week, scored 15 points for Florida Atlantic, which was coming off back-to-back 90-point games.
Vladislav Goldin had 14 points and eight rebounds, and Forrest added 13 points. Johnell Davis, the leading scorer for FAU at 13.5 points per game, was held to nine on 4-of-10 shooting.