Photo courtesy of Go Blue Raiders
Middle Tennessee (6-4) took on Tennessee Tech (3-8) Sunday afternoon at Murphy Center. The Blue Raiders beat Tennessee Tech 69-53, but, at one point, the team held a 30-point lead that was cut by the Golden Eagles in the final minutes.
The Blue Raiders started the game on fire, hitting their first three shots. Senior Brea Edwards was able to continue her success she had on Thursday, as she drilled her first two shots from beyond the arc. Edwards finished with a team-high 20 points and 10 rebounds, recording her second double-double of the season.
“I, personally, wasn’t very pleased,” Edwards said about her performance. “When there were open shots, that’s target practice for me, so when I miss wide-open three’s, it frustrates me. But overall I think it was an okay night for me, but I would like to, if I could, knock down every shot I took. So, I mean, I was pleased.”
The second quarter began with the Blue Raiders having a six-point lead, which would soon increase immensely. Tennessee Tech struggled against the Middle Tennessee defense, as the Golden Eagles would be held without a field goal in the second quarter.
“I thought our defense played real good in the first half,” Head Coach Rick Insell said. “We talked about it at halftime, and we’ve been playing pretty good defense [this year].”
Abbey Sissom entered the game as a substitution early throughout the first half for Olivia Jones, as Jones needed early breathers.
“Olivia’s gotten to the point now where she’s pretty smart with her game,” Insell said. “When I took her out she said she was having a little problem breathing. Instead of going three or four possessions when she don’t need to be out there, she’s taking her self out. We got a good player to put in for her in Sissom. She’s (Jones) growing up, that’s what it is.”
Sissom has played a pivotal role in the Blue Raiders’ scheme, and she continued to be an important cog in Insell’s system on Sunday. She chose to drive to the lane instead of shooting a wide-open three-pointer on multiple possesions, which Insell didn’t find too pleasing. Insell yelled across the gym for Sissom to “Shoot the three.”
On her next shot, she drilled a transition three and buried another three-point shot a few possessions later. Sissom finished with eight points and six boards in 19 minutes of action.
“I thought that Sissom should’ve taken a couple more shots than she did today,” Insell said. “She’s a great shooter, and we’re trying to get her to do two or three different things with her game.”
The Blue Raiders were in control the entire third quarter, allowing the bench players, especially Caroline Warden, to get some work in a game situation, which is critical as the team heads into conference play on Jan. 3.
“This was her (Warden) best game,” Insell said. “I said if I could get her back in January I’d be happy. I meant to play her more minutes against Kentucky and didn’t. I got a little scared because they were so aggressive and running at her.”
Middle Tennessee ended the game shooting a mere 36.7 percent from the field, just below their 37.4 percent season average, but their defense was able to hold the Golden Eagles to 32 percent shooting.
“We were up 25, maybe 26, and we just got complacent,” Insell said. “That happens right here before Christmas, so I’m not gonna get upset about it. Nobody got hurt from them or us, and our kids are going to go home with their friends and family and have a good Christmas. We’ll meet them back in here on the 26.”
Jones finished the game with 11 points and five rebounds, while Warden would finish with eight points. Ty Petty scored four points and dished our six dimes in just 19 minutes of action.
The Blue Raiders earned their sixth non-conference win of the season, which will be crucial come tournament time. The Blue Raiders will travel to take on the Ohio Bobcats (7-3) on Dec. 29 before Conference USA play begins on Jan. 3 at home against UAB (6-4).
To contact Interim Sports Editor Connor Ulrey, email firstname.lastname@example.org.