Photo by Tyler Lamb / Sports Editor
The Middle Tennessee Lady Raiders hosted the Ohio University Bobcats on Wednesday morning in front of 8,000 Murfreesboro City School kids for the annual Education Day game. The teams fought back and forth for the first three quarters, but the Bobcats pulled away in the fourth, defeating the Blue Raiders 73-52.
The Lady Raiders started slow on offense in the first half, only shooting 34.6 percent from the floor. Ohio jumped out to an early, nine-point lead in the second quarter on the strength of five three-pointers.
Facing an uphill battle for most of the first half, the Raiders fought back into the game using free throws. Alex Johnson went to the line five times in the half, converting nine of her ten attempts. Through one half, she led her team with 13 points.
Junior forward Gabby Lyon added eight points for the Lady Raiders on the early going, who won the paint battle in the first half 18-14. Turnovers were a problem for MTSU as they committed 12 turnovers in the first two quarters.
The Lady Raider defense stifled the Bobcats early in the second half, holding them without a basket for the first three and a half minutes. This enabled them to grab the lead on a Ty Petty jumper.
Both teams fought back and forth in the third quarter until the last four minutes when the Bobcats tightened up their defense. Ohio used this to build a twelve-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Bobcats opened the final quarter the same way they closed the third. Ohio’s stout defense led to better offense, as they would go on a 12-0 run to push their lead to 22. The Lady Raiders would cut the lead down to 16 but it was too late as Ohio coasted to the 73-52 victory.
Ty Petty led the way for the Lady Raiders with 14 points, eight rebounds and two assists. Gabby Lyon added 10 points and eight rebounds of her own. Alex Johnson scored 13 points, all of which came in the first half. While she made nine of her ten free throws, she was only 2-of-13 from the floor.
No one on the team was satisfied with the effort, with coach Rick Insell saying that there were little to no positives to take away.
“That was probably the worst exhibition of basketball that I’ve coached since I’ve been at Middle Tennessee State University,” Insell said. “I’ve said a lot of things in that dressing room, but that’s the most embarrassed that I’ve been out there on that floor with that team.”
“We looked anything but a basketball team.”
Petty was critical of the team’s defense, as it gave up 13 three-pointers which tied for the most all-time that a Lady Raider team has given up.
“Our biggest thing is getting into the scouting report. Ohio is a shooting team and the coaches did everything they could to prepare us for this,” Petty said. “It’s not something that they just did to us…we’ve got to buy into the scouting report better.”
Ohio received contributions from everyone that played today but the player that really hurt MTSU was Jasmine Weatherspoon who made five of the thirteen three-pointers for the Bobcats.
“She had five [threes] and you’re not going to find another [center] that’s going to go out there and [shoot like that] this year,” Insell said. “They were so good at penetrating, they’d get you caught up looking for the three and the next thing you know, that quick guard has gone and broke down one of our players.”
Despite the tough loss, Insell knows that this team has to move forward mentally so it doesn’t start a losing streak.
“The biggest thing you can have right now is a big win,” Insell said. “A big win like Saturday can get you back on track but you’ve got to be coachable. Winning helps everything but if you look at our schedule, there’s no built-in wins. We’ve got a lot of games ahead of us. If we can win a big game or two, it’ll help this team.”
“We’ve been here before. We’ve just got to grow up, toughen up and go to work.”
The Lady Raiders will be back in action on Saturday against the Tulane Green Wave. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.
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