Photo by Gregory French // Staff Photographer
Story by Tyler Lamb // Staff Writer
No. 2 seed Middle Tennessee began conference tournament play Thursday in a quarterfinal matchup with No. 10 seed Rice, with the Lady Raiders beating the Owls 74-54 in a game that was won on both ends of the court.
The only other meeting between the two schools this season was MTSU’s closest margin of victory all season, beating Rice 61-60 on a Brea Edwards three-pointer with five seconds remaining in the game.
The Lady Raiders seemingly won today’s matchup in the first half, capitalizing with 15 points off of 12 turnovers from Rice.
A leak in the arena caused a delay at the 1:42 mark in the third quarter.
The brief stop in play to clean up the water on the court altered the Lady Raiders’ performance, taking a turn for the worst.
The Lady Raiders, suddenly, found themselves on their heels as the Owls made a late-game surge, cashing in on multiple turnovers.
MTSU coach Rick Insell showed trust in his team as he watched a 19-point lead evaporate, but never calling a timeout.
Abbey Sissom and Edwards answered the Owl run with a couple of three pointers to extend the lead back to double digits, putting the game out of reach.
Edwards once again came up strong in Thursday’s matchup as well, finishing the night with a game-high 22 points, with 15 of those coming from deep.
C-USA assists leader Ty Petty came into today’s matchup averaging just over five assists per game.
Petty tied the C-USA single-game assist record with 13 against the Owls, a record which had been held for 10 years.
Sissom started and ended hot, knocking down the first two three-pointers of the game and coming up strong from beyond the arc in the final minutes.
She finished the night with 16 points, four rebounds and two assists.
Recently named C-USA Freshman of the Year, Alex Johnson, picked up her second foul at the 4:59 mark in the first quarter.
She did not return until the second half, where she quickly picked up her third foul, sending her right back to the bench.
She played sparingly in the fourth quarter, seeing only 15 minutes in the game en route to an 11-point, three rebound performance.
MTSU forward Rebecca Reuter stepped up big in Johnson’s absence. She went 4-for-5 from the field, leaving with 10 points and eight rebounds.
With the win, the Lady Raiders are now 10-1 in first-round games under Coach Insell.
The team has a quick turn-around Friday against the winner of the final game of the evening between No. 3 seed Western Kentucky and No. 6 seed Marshall for a chance at the C-USA title.
Tip off tomorrow is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. CT.
To contact Sports Editor Connor Grott, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Connor_Grott.