Middle Tennessee’s Blue Raider women (8-4) fought off a scrappy Florida International University (3-10) team Thursday evening 75-60, earning their second straight conference win to open Conference USA play.
FIU opened the game with the lead, but the Blue Raiders had the advantage by the under-16 media timeout and did not relinquish the lead for the rest of the night, a pivotal stat in their eighth win of the season.
Sophomore Olivia Jones continued to show why she has been one of the top players in the conference, scoring 27 points in the night while also grabbing nine rebounds and forcing six steals. Turnovers were a big part of the Blue Raiders advantage in the game, as they would force 29 FIU mistakes in the contest.
Freshman Cheyenne Parker also continued to shine for Middle Tennessee, adding another double-double to her season total. Parker finished with 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Passing Thursday night was another shining category for the Blue Raiders, who as a team would assist on 16 of their 30 made field goals. Sophomore Ty Petty led the team with seven assists, to go with her 11 points and seven rebounds.
After gaining the lead in the first half, Middle Tennessee would extend their lead to as many as 13 and led by 10 three times in the first frame. FIU would cut the lead to 45-38 at the halftime buzzer.
The second half was a tale of two stories for the Blue Raiders, who started strong and extended their lead to 55-41 with 17:03 left in the second frame. The Lady Panthers would respond over the next nine minutes and cut the lead to 57-55 with 8:45 left in the game. Middle Tennessee would answer, going on a quick 8-0 run of their own to extend the lead to 65-55, and would not let FIU get within six points the rest of the contest.
Middle was dominant in the paint, outscoring FIU 46-26, and also led for 35:59 of the 40 minute game. FIU would only lead for 2:10 throughout.
Middle Tennessee will look to continue their streak as they head to Florida Atlantic on Sunday. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.
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To contact sports editor Connor Grott, email firstname.lastname@example.org