MTSU men knock off FIU 66-57 to salvage C-USA split

MTSU senior Donovan Sims led the Blue Raiders with 15 points in a 67-56 home win over Conference USA foe FIU on Saturday. MTSU ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

Less than 24 hours removed from losing 68-55 to FIU in its Conference USA opener, MTSU's men flipped the script with a much-needed 67-56 victory on Saturday at Murphy Center.

MTSU, which had its C-USA opener at FAU postponed the previous week, was playing for just the second time in 24 days due COVID issues. The Blue Raiders improved to 3-5 overall and 1-1 in league play. The Panthers fell to 8-4 and 2-2.

"It was a great team win," MTSU coach Nick McDevitt said. "I thought we showed a little bit of maturity after yesterday's game, but also they just haven't dropped their heads and their effort hasn't wavered over the last about 10 days as we've been in and out of quarantines and struggling to find enough bodies to even do small group workouts.

"To be able to come out of here with a good win, I was really proud of our group."

MTSU and FIU had an ugly slugfest Friday with both teams struggling to find the bottom of the net with consistency.

The Blue Raiders led midway through the second half before the Panthers took advantage of MTSU's tired legs and pulled away late for the 13-point win.

On Saturday, however, MTSU raced out to a 31-9 lead and didn't look back.

"There was just better ball movement," said MTSU senior guard Donovan Sims, who led the Blue Raiders with 15 points. "We were trusting each other and knew when we made a play for each other, we had confidence they would knock it down."

FIU did get as close as seven points in the second half before MTSU used an 11-2 run to put the game away.

FIU cut the advantage down to as little as seven in the second half, but the Blue Raiders used an 11-2 run over four minutes of game time to lay the finishing blow. They held the Panthers to 1-for-9 shooting during the run.

DeAndre Dishman added 12 points and eight rebounds for MTSU and junior Jordan Davis had 13 points and three steals.

MTSU is scheduled to play at Southern Mississippi on Friday and Saturday.

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