Both the men and women’s basketball teams picked up dominate wins over the Warhawks in the final home game of the regular season as a Sun Belt Conference member.
First up, the Lady Raiders took care of the Warhawks 74-53, thanks in part to senior stars Kortni Jones and Icelyn Elie.
In the first half, Jones got off to a slow start going 3-for-11 from the field with eight points. By the half, MTSU was only up 30-28.
During halftime, MTSU head coach Rick Insell said he had a “talk” with his star guard. Jones called it a “butt chewing.” Whatever it was, it worked.
In the second half, Jones was hot from the field, going 6-for-10 from long distance, and she finished with 30 points. Her total of eight 3-pointers tied an MTSU school record.
And Elie quietly finished with another double-double on the season with 15 points and 11 rebound, while freshman guard Caroline Warden scored a career-best 16 points as well.
With the win, the Lady Raiders clinched a share of another Sun Belt regular season title.
In the post-game press conference both Insell and Jones agreed that this team does not like to share anything, especially a conference title. The Lady Raiders have two tougher road games left this week against Troy and Western Kentucky.
Insell said believes this year’s seniors have joined a long list of great Lady Raiders players, but they also have unfinished business in the next couple of weeks, including going for another conference title, and a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.
If the Lady Raiders achieve that goal, it will be four NCAA berths in all four seasons.
As for the Blue Raiders, they just kept rolling along with another 87-46 victory over Louisiana-Monroe. The win gives the team a perfect 16-0 record at home this season, which includes the impressive 56-52 win over Vanderbilt late last year.
A group of six seniors, forwards JT Sulton and Jason Jones, and guards Bruce Massey, Marcos Knight, James Gallman and Raymond Cintron, have helped the Blue Raiders clinch their second consecutive Sun Belt regular season title and a No. 1 seed in the upcoming tournament that starts Friday, March 8.
Every Blue Raider player saw action in the win, and all but three scored at least three points. The Knight brothers of Marcos and Tweety Knight led the way with 15 and 11 points, respectively. Cintron added 11, and junior center Torin Walker chipped in with 10 points.
Just like the women’s team, these Blue Raiders have unfinished business.
They are hoping to win the conference title and earn the program’s first NCAA bid since 1989. Their home portion of the schedule is done, but the Blue Raiders have road games this weekend at Troy and Western Kentucky, both of which will be looking for payback after losing to MTSU at the Murphy Center earlier this season.
Hopefully, this win will finally put the Blue Raiders in either the USA Today Coaches or Associated Press Poll.
I hope they get the respect they deserved. These players truly deserve it with the way they play on the court and how they act like champions off the court.