The Middle Tennessee women’s basketball team (2-2) handed Ole Miss (3-1) their first loss of the season, beating the Rebels 71-65 at Tad Smith Sunday.
With the win, Blue Raiders head coach Rick Insell defeated his son, second-year Ole Miss head coach Matt Insell. This marked the first time in Division I women’s basketball history that a father and son met as head coaches.
“I’m proud of my team,” Rick Insell said. “This was a team win. I really didn’t give much thought to the fact Matt was coaching the other team. Once the game started he was coaching his team, and I was coaching mine. It was a special day, though, because all my family and friends were here. This was a good win for our team on the road against a good basketball team in Ole Miss.”
MT was led by a huge game from newcomer Cheyenne Parker. She led the Blue Raiders in her debut with a game-high 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Parker also hauled in 10 rebounds. MT had two players record a double-double and almost had a third.
One of the double-doubles was recorded by Olivia Jones. It was her third consecutive double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, while also adding four steals. Ty Petty narrowly missed a double-double with 13 points and a career-high nine assists.
The Blue Raiders got off to a bad start in the first half, falling behind 22-10 with 9:01 remaining in the opening frame. However, they would come back with an impressive 15-0 run to take their first lead 25-22 on Gabby Lyon’s three-pointer with 5:41 remaining in the first half. MT would lead the rest of the way, but the game would stay tight until the end.
The 71 points that MT scored were the most that Ole Miss has given up so far in this young season. It was the Blue Raiders first win eight tries at Ole Miss.
Parker was suspended for the team’s first three game, but she came out in a big way in her debut. The senior forward dominated the paint and led the way for MT. Junior guard Caroline Warden continued her strong play, scoring nine points and playing all 40 minutes. Sophomore guard China Dow also had a great night, scoring seven points, nabbing six steals and dishing three assists.
At the half, the Blue Raiders led 36-31, and they would build their lead to as much as 13, 49-36, following Parker’s layup with 13:15 remaining. Middle Tennessee started two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior, but they showed great poise on the road, especially when the Rebels put together a run.
The Rebels would make a run, cutting the deficit to two point, bringing the score to 51-49 with 9:29 remaining. However, Jones’ three-pointer with 6:47 remaining pushed the Blue Raiders lead back to seven, 58-51. Ole Miss would not go away though. They would cut the MT lead to three at 59-56 with 4:45 remaining, but a Warden layup and Parker basket extended the Blue Raiders lead back up to seven, 63-56, with 3:14 remaining.
Turnovers turned out to be a key element that charged the MT win. The Blue Raiders forced the Rebels into 24 miscues and turned them into 27 points. The bench proved to be huge as well, outscoring Ole Miss’ bench 32-15.
The Blue Raiders will not play again until Dec. 3 when they host Clemson inside the Murphy Center at 11 a.m.
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