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Last-second shot sinks Blue Raiders

Yates scores 21 in setback

February 15, 2007 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - In a back-and-forth game that saw seven lead changes it was Florida International's Alex Galindo who connected on the biggest shot of the night - a 3-pointer from the baseline with eight seconds remaining - to lift the visiting Golden Panthers to a 69-67 win in front of 4,907 at Murphy Center.

Middle Tennessee's last-second chance at victory ended when Kevin Kanaskie's 3-pointer was off the mark as time expired. One streak continued in the setback while another impressive one ended. The Blue Raiders lost for the fourth straight time as Florida International (10-15, 5-10) ended a 10-game losing streak against Middle Tennessee (12-15, 7-9).

"You have to give Florida International credit," Middle Tennessee Head Coach Kermit Davis said. "They made the big play at the end of the game. It's a pretty simple play and we didn't get out there in time on the interchange. (Galindo) made a clutch shot and he had time to get off a pretty good look there."

The loss overshadowed another outstanding night for freshman Desmond Yates, who scored a game-high 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field, pulled a team-high six rebounds, and didn't commit a turnover in 30 minutes. It was Yates' fourth game this season with 21 or more points and three of them have come against Sun Belt opponents.

Kanaskie added 16 points for the Blue Raiders and dished out seven more assists to move into 10th on the career assists list with 236. The seven helpers against the Golden Panthers give him 162 on the season - fifth on the single-season list. Kyle Young and Tim Blue each scored eight points for the Blue Raiders.

Florida International was led by Galindo's 20 points.

The Blue Raiders trailed 64-60 with less than three minutes remaining but Kanaskie drilled a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 64-63 with 2:33 remaining. Chris Fuller extended Florida International's lead to 66-63 on a short jumper at the 1:42 mark only to see Yates bury a clutch shot on the other end to pull Middle Tennessee to within 65-66 with 1:06 to play.

Young came up with a huge defensive play when he took a charge to return possession to Middle Tennessee with 44 seconds remaining and the Blue Raiders turned the play into a lead when Kanaskie knocked down a pair of free throws to stake his team to a 67-66 lead with 37 seconds remaining.

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Florida International set up its final offensive play and got Galindo open in the opposite corner for the game-winning 3-pointer. His shot came with eight seconds remaining and Kanaskie's game-winning effort on the other end wasn't meant to be as the Golden Panthers escaped with the victory.

Middle Tennessee started the game strong and led 10-3 but the final 10 minutes of the half belonged to Florida International, which carried a 38-28 lead into the intermission.

The Blue Raiders will be off this weekend before traveling to Troy next Thursday. Tipoff is 7:30 p.m.

POSTGAME NOTES:
BIG NIGHT FOR BOOGIE: Freshman Desmond Yates turned in one of his best games against Florida International by registering 21 points, six rebounds, and no turnovers in 30 minutes. It marked the fourth 20-point game of his career and the most he has tallied in a game since pouring in 23 points against Arkansas State on January 17. Yates, who was a perfect 3-for-3 from the line, made eight of his 10 field goal attempts to record his best shooting percentage of the season.

KANASKIE PASSES MARTIN: Sophomore Kevin Kanaskie surpassed Jimmy Martin for 10th place on the all-time assist list after dishing out seven helpers against FIU. Kanaskie ran his career total to 236 assists and now needs 14 more to tie Greg Joyner for ninth place. Kanaskie has 162 assists on the season which ranks as the fifth highest single-season total at MT.

QUICK HITTERS: Kyle Young recorded his 58th career blocked shot in the loss to FIU ... Middle Tennessee lost to FIU for the first time under head coach Kermit Davis (9-1) ... Walk-on John Hopson played a career-best two minutes against FIU and recorded his first career rebound ... Kevin Kanaskie has now played 36 or more minutes in 21 of 27 games.

POSTGAME QUOTES
Middle Tennessee Head Coach Kermit Davis
On the play of the team:

"I thought for 40 minutes, Florida International was more physical and had more energy than we did. We got up on them early, but with the immaturity of our team we thought it was going to be easy. For about 13 minutes, I didn't recognize the team I was coaching. I'm responsible for that. We didn't do a very good job. We didn't have any energy level. We tried to get our energy back in the second half. We were down by four and then all of a sudden we are down nine. It's been our Achilles Heel that we can't make consecutive stops. Give Florida International credit, they were just the better team tonight."

On FIU's late first-half run:
"I played John Hobson, our walk-on, late in the first half. I was disappointed in Nigel [Johnson] and Theryn [Hudson]. Theryn Hudson is supposed to be the staple of what were are trying to do here the next two years. He couldn't hang on to the balls, fumbled balls and had no facial expression. Nigel Johnson came out of timeouts and he forgot what he was supposed to run. I'm responsible for that. Like I said, at times we did have a good effort in the second half. I have to commend guys that were on the floor such as Darren Avery and Desmond Yates. We had chances in the second half with about nine or 10 minutes to go, but we couldn't make any consecutive stops after that."

About FIU's perimeter play:
"They played without their best perimeter player (Johwen Villegas) for the last 24 minutes. They beat us without him. I know they are a better offensive team. We just haven't had enough guys make progress. James just took over the game because he got in the lane and made plays happen."

On possibly hosting a first-round game:
"It makes it a lot tougher. We have to go on the road and get a road win at Troy. We have to beat Florida Atlantic here to have a chance at hosting. We are still going to fight it and prepare. We practiced well for two days. We had more energy in practice the last two days than we did in the last 10 minutes in the first half. I think our energy in the second half was a lot better. We are who we are right now. We've got to try to make some progress."

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