Middle Tennessee (10-5, 4-1) used a dominating second half performance to grab their fourth conference victory of the season, 82-58, over the Lady Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech (8-8, 3-2).
The first half was a seesaw battle between the two teams at the Murphy Center on Saturday night. Both teams traded the lead in the first frame of the contest, with neither team leading by more than seven. Louisiana Tech started out hot, getting out to a 20-13 lead, but Middle Tennessee battled back and would take the lead multiple times over the next 10 minutes.
Louisiana Tech would have their last lead of the game at the 3:09 mark of the first half, a 29-26 advantage. The Blue Raiders would not look back from there, holding the lead for the final three minutes of the first half and the rest of the game. A four-point play by sophomore China Dow in the last 10 seconds of the first half gave Middle a 37-33 lead at the break.
The Blue Raiders dominated the second half, continuing to pour in buckets, extending their lead to 55-42 entering the under-12 media timeout. The Lady Bulldogs wouldn’t come within 10 points in the second half, as Middle Tennessee stretched their lead to as many as 23 in the final frame, leading to a 82-59 win.
Sophomore Olivia Jones was a dominant force for the Blue Raiders, scoring 28 points to lead all scorers. Jones would shoot a blistering 64 percent from the field on 11-of-17 shooting, adding six rebounds. Senior Cheyenne Parker earned her seventh double-double of the season, scoring 14 points, grabbing 11 boards, and adding four blocked shots on the night.
Also scoring in double figures for the Blue Raiders were senior Shanice Cason and Dow. Cason scored 12 points while dishing out a team-high eight assists. Dow finished with 13 points, including four three-pointers.
The Blue Raiders held nearly every statistical advantage on Saturday. Middle Tennessee passed well, assisting on 18-of-27 made baskets. They were also strong inside, scoring 30 points in the paint, and defensively blocking four shots, all by Parker, while forcing 23 turnovers in the game.
For the Bulldogs, Chrisstasia Walker was on triple-double alert Saturday, as she finished with seven points, nine assists and nine rebounds. Brandi Wingate and Kelia Shelton led Louisiana Tech in scoring, both adding 14 in the game.
Middle Tennessee will look to continue their strong January when they travel to Norfolk, Virginia to take on Old Dominion on Thursday. Tipoff is to be announced.
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