MTSU women overwhelm Lipscomb 70-49

MTSU sophomore Taylor Sutton hit 7 of 7 from the field, 4 of 4 from 3-point range and scored 20 points to help the Lady Raiders defeat Lipscomb 70-49 Wednesday. MTSU ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

MTSU had never lost to in-state foe Lipscomb going into Wednesday, and the Lady Raiders weren't about to let it happen for the first time on their home floor.

Hard-nosed defense led MTSU (6-3) to its 12th win all-time against the Lady Bisons (1-7) and seventh at the Murphy Center, 70-49.

"We've played four games in six days, and the competition we had to play was absolutely unreal," MTSU coach Rick Insell said. "They were still sluggish, but they persevered and came through and got them a victory."

The victory was seen by a crowd of 11,415, most of them Murfreesboro City Schools elementary students. The annual Education Day event has become the best of its kind in the country since its inception during the 2012-13 season, drawing a national-best average attendance of 10,955, and Wednesday's was the largest yet. It was also the second-biggest home crowd in program history.

"It's fun, but you might need a hearing test after," senior Charity Savage said. "They're really excited and bring a lot of energy, so it's fun playing in front of them."

The Lady Raiders brought their defensive pressure from the opening tip, limiting Lipscomb to 5-for-16 shooting in the first quarter.

Once the shots started to fall on the other end for the blue and white, they were in business.

After starting 1-for-8 from the floor, MTSU rebounded by making five of its last seven in the first quarter. It took a 9-2 run into the first break, then scored the first nine of the second quarter to grow the lead to 13 with under six minutes to go in the half.

The Lady Raiders eventually led 37-23 at halftime and just had to remain steady defensively from there. They limited the Lady Bisons to 35 percent shooting in the second half, and the road team finished 19-for-56 from the field in the game (33.9 percent). MTSU also did a good job of mopping up Lipscomb's misses, allowing only four offensive rebounds and winning the battle on the boards 48-28.

The 49 points allowed and 35 percent shooting allowed were season bests for the Lady Raiders.

"Coach always says he never has to coach effort, and I feel like that's what makes it easier for us," sophomore Anastasia Hayes said. "I can honestly say that all of us play really hard."

Sophomore Taylor Sutton was the catalyst that ignited MTSU on the offensive end early on.

Down three just over six minutes into the game, she hit a 3-pointer to tie the game and got her day rolling. She then hit a layup and pair of free throws in the first quarter for seven quick points.

Sutton stayed efficient all night, finishing a perfect 7-for-7 from the field for 20 points to go with five rebounds.

"I thought Taylor Sutton did a great job," Insell said. "That borders on perfect, to be honest with you."

Aiding Sutton was an all-around performance from Hayes, who had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds to go with five assists and two steals. Savage also had a double-double, her third this season, with 12 points and a career-high-tying 13 rebounds. She finished 6-for-8 from the field and also had three blocks.

MTSU will get some time in the practice gym over the next week and a half. The Lady Raiders don't lace up the game shoes again for 10 days when they travel to play another Nashville school, Belmont, on Dec. 14.

"We'll give them three or four days off," Insell said. "The reason we're doing that is to kind of gather ourselves, get our minds clear and bodies healed up a little bit, and take it from there."

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