Photo by: MT Athletics
Rick Insell’s Blue Raiders (1-2) squared off against Matt Insell’s Rebels (1-3) on Sunday afternoon at the Murphy Center in the third installment of the “Insell Bowl” in front of the ninth largest crowd in program history.
Middle Tennessee entered Sunday’s father-son contest seeking their first win of the season. The Blue Raiders began the game strong on the glass, but they struggled maintaining possession early, as the team had four turnovers in the first quarter. Ole Miss took an early 22-20 first quarter lead.
The Blue Raiders regrouped at the break, but they turned the ball over seven times in the second quarter. However, their defense was superb, as they held the Ole Miss offense to five points in the second quarter.
“We grew up a little bit today,” Head Coach Rick Insell said about his teams’ performance and perseverance throughout the 84-75 victory over Ole Miss.
Even though the team amassed 11 turnovers in the 1st half, they still went into halftime with the 36-27 lead that the Blue Raiders would not relinquish. Brea Edwards and Olivia Jones led the team with eight points at the half, and Edwards led the team with seven rebounds.
“It was a great team win, and it was fun out there,” Edwards said. “I think we’re finally starting to build some chemistry together, and I think it’s just going to build from there.”
The third quarter was a much better start for the Blue Raiders, as they outscored Ole Miss 29-18. Brea Edwards dropped 13 of her final total of 24 in the third quarter, shooting 3-for-5 from behind the arc. By the end of the third quarter, the Blue Raiders had four players in double figures, Ty Petty, Abbey Sissom, Edwards, and Jones, and Edwards and Jones had recorded double-doubles.
“We can shoot the ball,” Insell said about his team. “Abbey Sissom, Olivia Jones, Brea [Edwards], Ty [Petty], and the other kids we got on the bench can shoot the ball.”
The fourth quarter was rough for the Blue Raiders, as they allowed Ole Miss to outscore them 30-19. Things also got a little chippy with Petty and the Rebel defenders, as Petty seemed to get smacked across the face when getting a hand-off from Edwards just outside the arc.
“I can’t comment,” Insell responded when asked about the play. “It was a grind-it-out game, but when you get a busted lip [referring to Petty], you gotta call that.”
Petty was able to record the Blue Raiders’ third double-double of the game, as she dropped 12 points and dished out a career-high 10 assists. Edwards would finish with 24 points and 12 rebounds, and Jones finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Overall, the Blue Raiders finished with 47 rebounds (18 of which were offensive rebounds), 18-for-20 (90%) from the free throw line, 14-for-29 (48.3%) from beyond the arc, and a season-high 20 assists. One area that Middle Tennessee struggled was with turnovers, finishing with 22 in the game, with 11 in both halves.
“Our turnovers are usually our own off of stupid stuff,” Edwards said about how the team can minimize turning the ball over. “I think we will start to cut those down just because of the constant repetition from practice.”
Ole Miss recovered well in the early stages of the fourth quarter, using key runs to cut the lead down. Brea Edwards and Abbey Sissom stepped up late, hitting threes that halted the Rebel runs and kept the lead intact.
“Well, we hung on,” Insell said. “We got a little tired, we got a little shaky with the ball, they [Ole Miss] went in and got some offensive rebounds, but we shot the ball better today. We nearly shot 50% from the three-point line.”
Up next, the Blue Raiders head out to Reno, Nevada, to participate in the Nugget Classic Nov. 27 & 28.
To contact Interim Sports Editor Connor Ulrey, email firstname.lastname@example.org.