63-64 with 1:56 left, 63-66 with 1:24 left, 64-66 with one minute left, 66 all with 40 seconds remaining, 67-66 with 30.4 seconds left, 69-67 with eight seconds remaining. To say the finish was a nail biter, would be an understatement. Inside the last 4 minutes of the game, the crowd in the Murphy Center became electric. Everyone stood, cheering as loud as possible, chanting and cheering their hearts out. A win was in the air, there was a 1 point lead for the Blue Raiders, and there wasn't much time left on the clock.
Then it happened. Alex Galindo buried his three point shot with eight seconds on the clock. Kevin Kanaskie took the inbounds pass, and hustled down the floor, only to miss his potential game winning three.
And so it was on a frigid night in Murfreesboro. The Raiders lengthened a losing streak to four, as FIU won it's first in the last 10 against Middle Tennessee. FIU also snapped the three game losing streak they brought into Thursday's game.
The Golden Panthers won the tip off, but several defensive possessions later, Darren Avery opened the scoring at 18:44 in the first half. Desmond Yates added three of his 21 almost a minute later, giving the Raiders a five nothing run to start the game. The opening of the game was exciting, as the Raiders started with a 10-3 run in the first five and a half minutes. The crowd of 4,907 loved every minute of it, cheering Middle onwards to victory, urging them never to fail in the fight.
However, trouble was brewing, as Middle Tennessee accumulated 8 fouls in the first 9 minutes. FIU worked its way back finishing the half with a 10 point lead, 38-28. At the half, Middle was shooting under 50%, with 12-25 field goals sinking; none of them past the three point arc, Middle also landed four of its six free throws. Florida International went into the intermission with similar numbers, going 12-26 from the field, however the Panthers dropped five of seven from behind the arc, and nine of their 11 free throws.
Halftime showcased the Blackmon High School cheerleaders dancing to the great Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven" as a remembrance of hurricane Katrina's victims. Mardi Gras night also gave the fans plenty of beads hurled from a parade of Blue Raiders, including the Lady Raiders basketball squad.
The Raiders emerged from the changing room agile, mobile and hostile, taking their queues from Kermit Davis who prowled the sideline, alternating between a grimace, and a frown.
The Blue Raiders finished the game with two double-digit scores in Desmond Yates, who posted 21 points and three rebounds, as well as Kevin Kanaskie who finished the game with 16 points and seven assists. Kyle Young and Tim Blue both hit the showers with 8 points and 5 and 4 rebounds respectively.
The Raiders hit the hardwood next Thursday, February 23rd, against struggling Troy University. Until then, remember how good it feels to leave the Murphy Center as the pep band belts out "Alma Mater", and every blue clad face is smiling.
MTSU drops 4th straight in the final seconds
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