By Rickey Fuquay, Jr.//Contributing Writer
MURFREESBORO – Middle Tennessee (24-9) seemingly could not miss Thursday night in Murphy Center, shooting a blistering 59.6 percent (28-of-47) from the field in its 82-70 victory over Ole Miss in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
It was the second time this season that MTSU Head Coach Rick Insell got the best of his son, Ole Miss Head Coach Matt Insell. MTSU beat Ole Miss back in November, 71-65, in Oxford.
With the win. MT improved to 4-0 all-time at home in the WNIT under Insell.
The first half was owned by the Blue Raiders. MTSU went on a quick 7-0 run to open the game and never looked back. Shooting 58.3 percent (14-of-24) from the field in the first half, the Blue Raiders built their lead throughout the first half, heading into the locker room up 41-26.
The game seemed to be slipping away for Ole Miss. The Rebels went down as much as 17 before using a 10-1 run to cut the lead to single digits, 53-45, with 12:49 remaining. MTSU answered back with a 7-0 run to regain momentum, putting them back up by double digits, 60-45, with 11:18 to go in the game.
MTSU cruised after that to the 82-70 victory. The win advanced the Blue Raiders to the WNIT quarterfinals.
It was a career night for sophomore guard Ty Petty, as she led the team with a career-high 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting (. She also added two rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
“I think I just controlled the tempo and led our team,” Petty said. “Being a point guard, I think I just led our team, kept us organized and executed plays.”
Sophomore guard/forward Olivia Jones also reached the 20-point mark, scoring 22 points on the night. Jones also stuffed the stat sheet with six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Junior guard/forward Brea Edwards tallied 11 points, and added eight rebounds and three steals.
For the Rebels (19-15), Shandricka Sessom led the way with 18 points. Also in double figures was A’Queen Hayes, who scored 14 points. Danielle McCray scored 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field.
The 59.6 field goal percentage set a new MTSU postseason record. MTSU shot 60.9 percent (14-of-23) from the field in the second half. Ole Miss shot 45.6 percent (26-of-57) from the field on the night, but MTSU’s offense was too much for the Rebels.
Middle Tennessee now turns its attention to Temple. The Blue Raiders will host the Owls in Murphy Center on Sunday in the WNIT quarterfinals. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m. CST.
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