Lady Raiders dominate paint in win over FAU

A half court buzzer-beating heave from Morgan Robinson gave Florida Atlantic a 10-point halftime lead, as the Owls shot 8-for-14 from beyond the arc in the first half.

Middle Tennessee (19-8, 13-3 C-USA) trailed for most of the game against Florida Atlantic (13-14, 5-11 C-USA) on Thursday night before battling back to beat the Owls 71-65.

The Owls shot 13-for-28 (46.4%) from three-point range, but the Lady Raiders dominated FAU in the paint, outscoring them 40-16.

“ [FAU is] the toughest team in the conference to prepare for,” head coach Rick Insell said. “They’ve had four or five games where they’ve hit 18 three’s. We knew coming in we were going to have to defend that three-point line.”

Senior forward TiAnna Porter showed signs of a monumental scoring performance early, dropping eight points in the first quarter, but she only played a total of 13 minutes.

Porter finished with 12 points and 8 rebounds, scoring double digit points in back-to-back games for the first time in her MTSU career.

“We’re really proud of TiAnna. She’s really done a great job for us the last two weeks. She’s really done a great job for her whole career, but the last two weeks she’s moved her game to another level,” Insell said.

The Lady Raiders were being out-shot from beyond the arc in the first half, giving the Owls a 10-point advantage over MTSU at the break.

“[At halftime] I said, ‘the same energy that it took to get us the lead, we gotta come back with that.’ That’s exactly what I said,” Insell said.

The Lady Raiders took Insell’s words to heart in the second half, out-scoring FAU 21-9 in the third quarter by attacking the paint and playing inside-out, even though the Owls shot 11-for-19 from beyond the arc through three quarters.

“We knew coming in that [FAU] had the type of team that could knockdown threes, and they [had] a lot of confidence in the first half,” Insell said.

Ty Petty became the floor general for the Lady Raiders in the second half, creating shots for her teammates and knocking down shots of her own. Petty finished with 13 points, three assists, and four steals.

Alex Johnson (14 points), Brea Edwards (13 points), Petty (13 points), Porter (12 points) and Abbey Sissom (10 points) all finished in double figures for MTSU.

The Lady Raiders finish out their regular season with senior night on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. against Florida International (4-23, C-USA 2-14).

Follow Caleb Luketic on Twitter @CalebLuketic

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