Both of MTSU's basketball programs may have won a postseason game on the same day, but the Lady Raiders were not in a celebratory mood Thursday night.
MTSU women's coach Rick Insell said his Lady Raiders survived their first-round Women's NIT game 67-58 over Morehead State on Thursday, but they better wake up before Wake Forest comes to town Sunday.
"I really appreciate the fans all paying $10 to come out and support us and staying up past 10:30, but that was a bad exhibition of basketball," he said. "We just didn't show up. We were 12 of 32 from the two-foot line. We got outrebounded.
"You don't win basketball games doing that."
MTSU's Ty Petty scored 22 and Alex Johnson led the way with 26 and 12 rebounds, tying her career high. But Insell looked beyond those stats to problem areas, particularly Johnson's 10-of-24 shooting night.
"A lot of it might be a carry-over from the other night, from Southern Miss, the last five minutes of that game. But I am not happy right now with our basketball team," Insell said.
Johnson agreed and said the team was suffering from lingering disappointment over their C-USA tournament loss to Southern Mississippi, where they let a nine-point lead slip away.
"When the guards give me the ball I've got to reward them. I'm disappointed in myself because I know I let my team down regardless of the points I had," she said. "The biggest thing is our mindset. Obviously, no one likes the position we're in. We don't want to be in the NIT; we want to be in the NCAA, but we're here in the NIT, so if we're going to be here we're going to go for that ring."
Morehead State missed four 3-pointers down the stretch, or things may have turned out different.
"We're lucky they didn't hit the threes because if they did, we wouldn't have been in the game," Johnson said.. "We pulled it out, but next game we've just got to come out with heart, energy and a whole lot more emotion than we did tonight."
For Petty, a senior, it's now win or her college career ends.
"We're fortunate enough to still be playing in the postseason and to be able to play Sunday, but we just have to do better," Petty said. "Tonight we played like, 'who cares?' That's something we've got to fix."
The 8:30 p.m. tipoff due to TSSAA boys basketball tournament also might have been a factor. MTSU started slow, scoring only one point in more than four minutes until Petty hit two straight 3-pointers. The Lady Raiders led 16-9 after one quarter.
The Eagles then went cold in second quarter, not scoring a bucket until the 5:10 mark, when Kayk Tate banked in a trey. Tate followed with another three and Darrianne Seward drove the lane for a layup to cut the lead to 29-21.
The Lady Raiders had only a six-point halftime lead at 32-26 and led 48-41 at the end of three. A key play was Petty's steal and driving layup at 7:18 in fourth to make it 55-43.
The Lady Raiders improved to 22-10 and will face the Demon Deacons, a 71-42 winner over Bethune-Cookman, at 2 p.m. Sunday at Murphy Center.