Limiting opponents to 62 or fewer points has generally been a recipe for success but that wasn't the case against No. 21 Gonzaga in the semifinals of the Gulf Coast Showcase here Saturday night.
MTSU's ran into a third-quarter buzz saw against Gonzaga and dropped a 62-50 decision. The Lady Raiders (5-2) will face the loser of Arizona State and Purdue in the third-place game Sunday at 4 p.m.
MTSU was in a dogfight and trailed 28-27 at intermission after Taylor Sutton beat the halftime buzzer with one of her three 3-pointers in the first half. However, third-quarter shooting by Gonzaga (5-1) turned the game.
The Bulldogs came out strong in the third quarter and used an 8-0 run to create separation but they were far from finished. Gonzaga connected on 10-of-14 field goals in the third quarter to take a commanding 53-37 lead into the final stanza. They finished the game shooting 52 percent after hitting just 4-of-10 fourth-quarter attempts.
MTSU held Gonzaga to almost 20 points below its scoring average of 80 points per outing but the Lady Raiders were not able to get anything going consistently on the offensive end.
"We played pretty good defense in the first half and that kept us in the game, but Gonzaga was very efficient in the third quarter," Lady coach Rick Insell said. "We gave ourselves a chance in the first half but we were not up to the task in the second half. We will build off of this and work to improve.
"We still have another great opportunity in front of us against either Arizona State or Purdue Sunday. We came here to play great competition because that is what is going to help us once we get into conference play."
Anastasia Hayes led MTSU with 20 points as she continued to tally double figures scoring in every game as a Lady Raider. Sutton tallied double figures with 11 and was 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. She is 9-of-18 from 3-point range in the Showcase. Alexis Whittington had her best game of the season, finishing with eight points and playing a career-high 32 minutes.
MTSU was saddled with foul trouble early as Charity Savage and Courtney Whitson each had three fouls in the second quarter. Savage pulled a game-high nine rebounds, including seven on the offensive end, but fouled out at the end of the third quarter as her streak of consecutive games with 10-plus rebounds was snapped at six.