Whittingtons enjoy birthday win at expense of FAU

MTSU's Amanda Whittington, right,  hit a key 3-pointer late in the Lady Raiders' 60-56 win at FAU. MTSU ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

BOCA RATON, Fla. - This was one birthday the Whittington twins won't soon forget.

Middle Tennessee senior guards Alexis and Amanda Whittington, celebrating their 22nd birthday, came up clutch with the game on the line to deliver the Lady Raiders a captivating 60-56 win at Florida Atlantic Thursday.

Amanda Whittington's 3-pointer from the left corner with 19 seconds remaining gave Middle Tennessee a 56-53 lead, and four consecutive free throws from Alexis Whittington and Courtney Whitson in the final five seconds was icing on the cake.

"This is the first time we have played on our birthday since we have been at Middle Tennessee," Amanda Whittington said. "Honestly, I can't think of a better way to celebrate your birthday."

Exceptional play down the stretch enabled Middle Tennessee (12-3, 4-1) to celebrate another C-USA road win over the Owls (4-9, 0-2)

Alexis Whittington had a solid all-around game with 13 points (on 4-of-6 shooting from the field) and seven rebounds. Courtney Whitson shared game-high scoring honors with 13 points and pulled nine rebounds to go with three steals and three assists.

Dor Saar tallied 10 points and dished out five assists with no turnovers in 40 minutes of action. Saar also had two steals. Freshman center Anastasiia Boldyreva had a solid outing with eight points and three blocked shots.

"I'm proud of our team and the way they battled to earn the win," Lady Raider Head Coach Rick Insell said. "We were short-handed, and we didn't play great, but we found a way to win and that's the sign of a good team. I'm proud of Amanda and happy for her. She came up big time and she deserves that moment. (Saar) made a great pass to Amanda in the corner and she knocked it down."

The game was tied 53-53 and the Owls had a chance to take the lead, but Rita Pleskevich's 3-pointer was off the mark with 1:15 remaining. Saar misfired on a trey on the other end with 45 seconds remaining, but Alexis Whittington grabbed the offensive rebound to keep the possession alive.

Boldyreva missed a short jumper with 37 seconds remaining, but Alexis Whittington once again corralled the offensive carom, setting the stage for her sister's heroic game-winner with 19 seconds remaining.

Alexis Whittington was clutch in turning the game with nine of her 13 points in the third quarter, going 3-of-4 from the field including a long 3-pointer that keyed a 8-0 Middle Tennessee run and a beautiful driving reverse layup, drawing the foul and converting the free throw to keep the Lady Raider lead at 41-34 with 4:07 remaining in the quarter.

Boldyreva's play in the second quarter was a highlight and enabled the Lady Raiders to cut a seven-point deficit to one by intermission. The freshman center knocked down 4-of-5 field goals in the second quarter, including a reverse layup with one second remaining to cut into the Owls' lead. Boldyreva had tied her career for points by halftime, while also establishing a new career high for field goals (4).

Middle Tennessee will return to action when it plays at FIU Saturday at 11 a.m.