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MT drops heartbreaking 89-85 overtime decision to Maine

Jones's 20 rebounds not enough in loss at Dr Pepper Classic

December 29, 2013 · @MTAthletics

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Despite receiving career-best performances from three Blue Raiders, the Middle Tennessee men's basketball team (8-5) opened the Dr Pepper Classic hosted by Chattanooga with an 89-85 overtime loss to Maine (2-9) Sunday.

Senior Shawn Jones led the Blue Raiders, recording his fifth double-double of the season with 16 points and a career-high 20 rebounds. The 20 boards marked a first for a Blue Raider since Napoleon Rhodes snagged 20 at UNC Greensboro Nov. 30, 2002. Jones' previous career-best was 15, which he recorded at Ole Miss Dec. 14.

MT senior guard Neiko Hunter paced the team offensively, tying his career-high with 20 points. He first recorded 20 points in the Raiders' season-opener against Southern Nov. 10. Redshirt sophomore Jaqawn Raymond rounded out the career-best performances for MT, posting 18 points to surpass his previous high of 17 against Akron Nov. 16.

The opening contest of Chattanooga's Dr Pepper Classic saw 11 lead changes and the score knotted up 10 times, before Maine claimed the 89-85 victory. MT carried a 34-31 lead into the locker room at halftime, but the Black Bears went to work and jumped out to a 45-39 lead in the first five minutes of the second frame.

MT then used back-to-back dunks from Jones and a three-pointer from Kerry Hammonds II to tie the score up at 48-48 with 13:08 to play. The next eight minutes would prove to be a back-and-forth affair as Maine would jump ahead by a couple buckets just to have the Raiders close the gap again.

During the stretch from 7:13-4:38, Raymond scored 11 of MT's 12 points. In that time, he rattled off three three-pointers to give MT a 73-72 advantage with 4:01 left to play in the contest. A free throw from Jones put the Raiders up 74-72, but a jam from Maine's Killian Cato tied things up once again. With 1:29 left in regulation the 74-74 score would hold as the two clubs went into overtime.

The Black Bears opened the overtime period with an old fashion three-point play by Dimitry Coronel to take a 77-74 lead with 4:16 remaining. Unfortunately for the Blue Raiders, Maine never relinquished the lead during overtime and MT would only pull within one-point with 54 seconds left before the Black Bears claimed the four-point win.

Maine was led on the night by Coronel with a game-high 27 points, while Zarko Valjarevic had 20 points. Shaun Lawton and Stefan Micovic each added 12 points for the Black Bears.

Hammonds finished the night for MT with 12 points, while freshman Reggie Upshaw, Jr. had 10 points. Upshaw also collected a career-high three blocked shots. In addition to his 20 points, Hunter also snagged seven rebounds as did junior Jacquez Rozier.

The Blue Raiders shot 42.7-percent from the floor and 20.0-percent from three-point range, while Maine was 48.5-percent from the floor and 63.6-percent from long distance. However, MT dominated the Black Bears on the boards, outrebounding them 52-35 and winning the battle of second chances 29-10. The Raiders outscored the Bears in the paint 46-34.

The Blue Raiders close out the Dr Pepper Classic Monday taking on the loser of the Chattanooga and Grand Canyon contest in the consolation game at 3:30 p.m. CT.

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