The MTSU men’s and women’s basketball team continued its long winning streak on Saturday with each team gaining another key home conference game on Saturday against Louisiana-Lafayette.
The women hit the century mark with a 104-53 win in the first game, while the men also defeated the Ragin Cajuns in the nightcap 65-53.
The Lady Raiders extended its winning streak to seven, while the men improved to 15-2, and its streak is also at seven.
Each team wanted to prove something after not being happy after the Troy wins on Thursday.
Women: MTSU 104, ULL 53
The Blue Raiders women’s team only won by six in overtime against a Trojans team that had come in with only one win this season. During the short layoff in between games, MTSU wanted to put that one behind them, and have a better performance against a ULL team that was missing its top two players, one because of a season-ending ACL tear last month. The other left the team because of personal reasons, according to the team’s pregame press release. Besides the normal preparation that the Blue Raiders go through before every game, Head coach Rick Insell also used another tactic to get its team back on track and it worked.
On the night before the ULL game, Insell had the entire team over for steaks. “We were feeling good and we knew we were going to play well.” It was the 13th time that MTSU hit the 100-point mark since Insell took over. All time the school is 37-7, when scoring over 100 points. In the first half, the Blue Raiders had a 14-0 and 24-4 run to led 58-23.
“We had a real hard game against Troy,” junior guard Kortni Jones said. “We did not come in as focused as we had hoped, but we wanted to come into today’s game focused and get a really good win and send a message to the Sun Belt Conference that we are as focused as we used to be. It was mostly a change in attitude.”
Five players finished in double figures, Jones led the way with 23 points, Icelyn Elie added 22, and Ebony Rowe had 18, Shanice Cason had 11 and Lauren March had 10.
Next week, the Blue Raiders head to Florida and it will face the two SBC schools in the Sunshine state, Florida International on Thursday and at Florida Atlantic two days later. Insell added that Saturday’s win gives the team confidence heading to Florida next week.
Men: MTSU 65, ULL 53
It was a battle of streak and division leaders in the nightcap. The Blue Raiders also made it seven in a row with hard fought win that broke the Ragin’ Cajuns 12-game winning streak inside the SBC. The East division leader, MTSU improved to 15-2, which in one of the team’s best starts in school history.
“The key to our success is defending and rebounding, and staying together as a team,” junior guard Marcos Knight said. “Every night, there is going to be a different player scoring in double figures, but we do not care about that. We just care about winning. That’s all that matters to us.”
The Blue Raiders lead was cut down to one 49-48 with 6:04 left in the contest. However, senior center LaRon Dendy and Knight make sure that was closest ULL got to the lead for the rest of the game. Dendy scored underneath to make it a three-point advantage. On MTSU’s next possession, Knight hit a lay-up and was fouled. He then converted the free throw to finish off the Western division leaders. As a team, MTSU hit 8-of-9 free throws down the stretch to close the game.
“That’s a trait that this team has had all except for a close game here with Belmont,” MTSU head coach Kermit Davis said. “But free throw shooting is getting better. We got to the line more. During that stretch, it seemed like we made four or five free throws to get it back up to ten, and then like good teams do, they made a great run at us, and I thought we responded.”
Junior guard Raymond Cintron led all Blue Raider scorers with 17 points off the bench. Knight added 16, while Dendy had 13 and junior forward JT Sulton had 10.
Like the women, the men also head to the Sunshine state this week. They play Florida International on Thursday and Florida Atlantic on Saturday. Both games are part of a doubleheader with the women.