MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (ODUSports.com) - Middle Tennessee opened the second half with the first 20 points of the second half as Eli Lawrence scored 13 of those to lead the host Blue Raiders defeated Old Dominion 63-48 at the Murphy Center in Conference USA action on Thursday night.
A layup by Austin Trice with 12:16 left put ODU on the board in the second half to trail 50-32. After a free throw by DeAndre Dishman, Lawrence scored the next 13 points for MTSU in the opening run and topped the Blue Raiders in scoring with 18 points.
Old Dominion trimmed the lead to 15 points on a couple of occasions in the second half, the last being on the final bucket as Trice hit a putback for the eventual 63-48 final score.
Middle Tennessee opened the game on a 12-3 run, but Old Dominion cut the deficit to 12-7 after a pair of Mekhi Long free throws with 13:54 left.
The Blue Raiders pushed the lead to 21-10 on a 3-pointer by Donavan Sims with 11:11 left, but ODU responded with a 9-0 run to trim the lead to 21-19 after a layup by Trice with 8:22 left. He pushed the run to 11-0 with a layup to tie the game at 21-all with 7:42 remaining.
C.J. Keyser hit his first bucket of the game on a 3-pointer with 5:08 left to put ODU ahead for the first time 24-23. That capped a 14-2 run for the Monarchs over a 7:39 span, in which their defense forced MTSU into a 1-for-12 performance from the floor.
The Monarchs hit their last three FGs of the half, with a Keyser jumper tying the game at 30 at intermission. ODU hit 44.4% from field and the foul line, along with 50% from 3-point range.
Trice had his ninth double-double of the year with 18 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Monarchs. Kalu Ezikpe was next in scoring and rebounding for ODU with eight points and eight rebounds, while Keyser added seven points and Long chipped in with six points and seven rebounds.
Trice’s effort was well noted by ODU Head Coach Jeff Jones. “Austin has been competing like crazy here in the last month. I had to get him calmed down, but he has been a consistent force.”
ODU returns to Chartway Arena to face UAB on Super Bowl Sunday for a 2 p.m. tip.