TROY – It took an extra five minutes, but Troy was able to hold on and split the season series with MTSU by picking up a 69-65 win in overtime on Thursday night in Sun Belt action.
The victory gives the Trojans (8-17, 6-7) their third win in a row – a first for the 2010-11 season. It is also Troy's fourth win in five games.
Troy burst open the contest with a 10-4 lead in the first three-plus minutes of the game and never looked back widening its lead out to 15 with 2:57 to go in the first half. MTSU (14-13, 9-5) was never able to take a lead, but did tie the Trojans four times.
"We had to really dig down and fight to not let them take a one or two point lead," head coach Don Maestri said. "We did it by getting the extra rebound, taking a charge, or getting a turnover.
"It was a really gutty performance by our basketball team. Never ever giving up the lead was a really significant part of the victory."
Levan Patsatsia's tip in with 29 seconds left in the overtime frame gave Troy a three-point advantage. Kerry Hammonds missed a trey with eight seconds to go and Will Weathers' free throw with 6.9 seconds left sealed the game.
The Trojans shot 7-of-16 from outside, but held MTSU to just 1-of-17 from 3-point range – a season low for the Blue Raiders.
The overtime victory was only the second of the season for Troy and its first in Sun Belt play. The Trojans are 2-3 in overtime, including 1-2 in league games.
Vernon Taylor's acrobatic slash to the hoop for two off a fast break feed from Weathers gave the Trojans a 17-9 lead with 12:39 left in the first half. The Trojans would increase their lead to 20-9, but MTSU scored six straight before Weathers knocked down a trey with 8:39 on the first half clock.
Taylor finished with 13 points – his seventh-straight game in double-figures. He also extended his streak of consecutive free throws made to 34 consecutive makes – the longest active streak in NCAA Division I.
Tim Owens converted a three-point play with 6:02 left before halftime to give the Trojans a 29-19 lead. Two more by Owens gave the Trojans a 14-point lead with less than four minutes to go.
Steven Cunningham split a pair of free throws with 1:59 on the clock, but MTSU scored two baskets to close out the half and leave the Trojans up 37-27 at the intermission.
The Blue Raiders came out of the half with an 11-2 run to close to within a point before Troy answered with a basket from Bernard Toombs with 15:24 on the clock. MTSU knotted the game at 43 with a three-point play by Jason Jones.
Regis Huddleston's first 3-pointer in three games gave Troy a 51-45 lead. A 3-pointer by Regis Huddleston put the Trojans on top 59-55. The Blue Raiders' first 3-pointer of the game came with 2:11 left and it narrowed Troy's lead to just a point, but Patsatsia answered with a long two.
Huddleston went 3-for-4 from outside and knocked down his first 3-pointer in three games. He finished with 10 points. Patsatsia finished as the fourth double-figure scorer with 10.
Jones converted three-point play to tie the game at 61 with 1:21 to go. Troy turned it over with 52 seconds left to set up a chance for MTSU to take its first lead of the game. After a timeout by Middle Tennessee, Troy's Weathers came up with a steal and found Taylor for a jumper and a two-point lead, 63-61.
MTSU had one final possession and tied it on a JT Sulton leaner in the paint with two seconds to go. A desperation try by Cunningham missed sending the Trojans and Middle Tennessee into overtime.
Weathers sank two free throws for the first points of the extra stanza. MTSU answered on the next possession with two from Trevor Ottley. A free throw from Cunningham put Troy up 66-65 with a little more than three minutes left.
Ottley scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Jones scored 21 points to lead the Blue Raiders.
Patsatsia's put-back with 29 ticks left put Troy up three. After a missed trey by Hammonds, Weathers came down with the rebound and was fouled. The sophomore from New Orleans, La. missed the first try, but sank the second to lead 69-65 with 6.6 left.
MTSU missed two chances in the final seconds to close the scoring and give the Trojans the victory.
Troy plays its final home game of the season on Saturday at 7:30 pm against Arkansas State. The Trojans will honor its five seniors in a ceremony prior to opening tip.