Jones' career night lifts MT past Owls, 67-63

Raiders extend winning-streak to four

February 6, 2014 · @MTAthletics

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Despite a late second half surge by Florida Atlantic, the Middle Tennessee (16-7, 6-2 C-USA) men's basketball team escaped with a 67-63 victory thanks to a career night by senior Shawn Jones Thursday evening at FAU Arena in Conference USA action as MT extended its winning streak to four.

Jones finished the night with a career-high 25 points, marking his seventh 20-point performance of the season and third-straight. His previous career-best was 24 points, which he posted against Akron Nov. 16. With 25 points on the night, he is just five points away from tallying his 1,000th-career point. The Hialeah, Fla., native flirted with this third-straight double-double, pulling down nine rebounds.

Men's Basketball vs. Florida Atlantic
Seniors Neiko Hunter and Kerry Hammonds II also tallied double-figures for the Blue Raiders, recording 19 points and 11 points, respectively. Hunter also snagged six boards for MT, while Hammonds handed out a team-high five assists.

Middle Tennessee took a 29-21 lead with 3:16 to play in the first half, but the Owls used an 8-2 run to closer out the opening frame as the Raiders took a 31-29 advantage into the locker room at halftime.

FAU came out firing in the second half, tying things up for the fourth time, before taking a 38-35 lead with 15:51 remaining. MT answered with an 8-0 run off of a jumper from Hunter, a three-pointer by Hammonds and a pair of jams courtesy of Jones to give the Raiders a 45-40 lead with 12:38 to play.

MT saw its lead swell to as many as 10 points three different times with the last coming with 5:40 to go off of a jumper from Hunter. The two clubs exchanged points for the next five minutes as the Raiders held a 63-54 lead with 36 seconds to play.

However, the Owls were nearly deadly from behind the arc as Marquan Botley hit a three with a 28 seconds on the clock to cut the deficit to six. An MT turnover followed by a foul gave FAU a chance to score with the clock stopped. Jackson Trapp hit a pair at the line, cutting the Blue Raider lead to 63-59 with 19 seconds remaining.

Desperate to stop the clock, FAU fouled Jaqawn Raymond and he went to the line to shoot the one-and-one. Raymond hit the first, but missed the second as FAU collected the defensive board with 18 seconds to go and MT up five. With 11 ticks left, Botley drained another trey and got fouled in the process. He completed the four-point play, cutting the MT lead to 64-63.

Not wasting any time, FAU fouled Hunter after the inbounds pass and the MT senior went to the line for the one-and-one. He hit the front end, but missed the back end of the one-and-one as Just Raffington grabbed the defensive rebound for the Owls.

With three seconds remaining, Pablo Bertone took it to the hole to send the contest into overtime, but his layup came up short as Hammonds snagged a big defensive board for the Raiders. Hammonds was fouled and sent to the line with 0.5 left on the clock. He made the pair at the charity stripe and MT escaped with a 67-63 victory.

FAU was led by a trio of players scoring double-digits as Botley paced the team with 19 points. Bertone added 17 points, while Trapp put up 11. Raffington corralled a game-best 10 rebounds, while Kelvin Penn had eight boards to go along with four blocked shots.

On the night MT shot 52.8-percent from the floor, marking the fourth-straight contest the Blue Raiders have shot 50-percent or better. The Owls shot 38.5-percent from the floor. MT edged FAU on the boards, outrebounding the Owls 33-31.

The Blue Raiders return to action Saturday, traveling to FIU for a 1 p.m. CT tip-off.

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