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Blue Raiders' strong offensive night not enough

UL-Monroe takes 82-76 win

February 8, 2007 · MT Media Relations
MONROE, La. - Middle Tennessee turned in one of its finest offensive performances of the season against Louisiana-Monroe but the Blue Raiders' usually staunch defense wasn't up to the task in a 82-76 setback in front of 2,607 at Fant-Ewing Coliseum Thursday.

The Blue Raiders (12-13, 7-7) equaled their season high for points and shot 55 percent from the field, including 47 percent from 3-point range, but the Sun Belt's West Division leader offset Middle Tennessee's offensive attack with tenacious rebounding and winning numerous loose balls.

The game featured the league's best road team in Middle Tennessee against the SBC's best home team in Lousiana-Monroe, which improved to 11-0 at Fant-Ewing Coliseum.

Middle Tennessee was led by a sophomore and two freshmen as Kevin Kanaskie scored a team-high 19 points, while Darren Avery contributed a career-high 15 points and Desmond Yates finished with 14.

Louisiana-Monroe's Jonas Brown led the Warhawks (15-10, 9-4) with 24 points but the biggest difference in the game was the play of Lance Brasher, who supplied his fourth double double of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Brasher, a 6-foot-2 guard, scored more points and had as many rebounds as Middle Tennessee's entire front line of Kyle Young (6-foot-10), Theryn Hudson (6-foot-10), and Tim Blue (6-foot-9) combined.

"That was the game," Middle Tennessee coach Kermit Davis said. "Our offense was fine but Brasher was able to offset our entire front line - by himself. He's a fine player and a guy I really respect in our league but that should not happen. They were tougher tonight and they were quicker to loose balls. This is a game we had a chance to win on the road but they were just better than us tonight."

Louisiana-Monroe's guard-oriented team won the battle of the boards, 34-25, and it pulled 12 offensive rebounds.

The teams battled to a 34-34 halftime tie and the Warhawks found themselves leading 61-51 with 7:46 remaining; however, the Blue Raiders battled back and closed to within 71-68 on Nigel Johnson's tip-in with 3:54 remaining. The momentum wouldn't continue though as the Warhawks used a 8-0 run to go on top 79-68 with 1:21 remaining.

Middle Tennessee returns to action Saturday when it faces Western Kentucky in Bowling Green, Ky. Tipoff at Diddle Arena is 1 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

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