MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- The MTSU women’s basketball team started off 2014 the same way it finished out 2013 -- with a win.
The Lady Raiders extended their winning streak to a perfect 10-0 after defeating in-state rival Tennessee Tech 84-53 on Thursday night at the Murphy Center. However, it was a struggle against old Ohio Valley Conference foe, the Golden Eagles who hung in with MTSU.
Early on, the Lady Raiders jumped out to an early lead, but TTU cut the advantage to 17-13 after a three-pointer by its freshman sharpshooting guard Catherine Taylor with 7:39 left in the opening half. During a media timeout a few seconds later, Insell fired up the Lady Raiders.
It must have worked, because after it MTSU went on a 12-2 to extend the lead to 29-15, which included a three point play by senior forward Ebony Rowe and a long distance bomb by freshman forward and former Riverdale star Olivia Jones.
“Coach (Insell) was telling us we needed to get focused, and not take this game light,” Rowe said after the win. “They basically came out attacking and we knew they were. We made some silly plays, and we were not playing to our potential. He knew that, and kicked us in gear.”
However, late in the first half, the Golden Eagles cut the advantage back to seven, 34-27 after a basket by Taylor, but Lady Raider super sub and senior guard Janay Brinkley added two free throws to give it a 36-27 lead at the half.
The beginning of the second half was a carbon copy for the Lady Raiders as it began the last 20 minutes of the game on a 19-3 run to take a 56-29 advantage. The run included a steal and basket by Jones, and a three pointer and three point play by junior guard and former Siegel star Shanice Cason.
“It was good,” Cason said after the win. “We know what we are capable of, and we stop ourselves sometimes. When we go out and play hard even when we have ups and downs. It is great to get momentum like that.”
With its 10th win in a row, the Lady Raiders improved to 11-3 on the season, and now it heads into C-USA play on a roll.
“I think it is huge,” Rowe said. “It is confidence for us, and we really want to make some noise around the country. Not just for our conference, but around the country that we are a team to contend with. A lot of people are talking about the big schools like Kentucky and Tennessee making it to Nashville for the Final Four. We consider us in that caliber of teams, and we want the country to know. We are really confident right now going into conference play.”
Every Lady Raider player in the game except four scored in the dominating win, and once again it was lead by Rowe with 28 points and Cason chipped in with 13 points.
MTSU opens up C-USA play on Jan. 8 against former Sun Belt Conference foe North Texas at 7 p.m. inside the Murphy Center.