Photo by Tyler Lamb / Sports Editor
The Lady Raiders battled Georgia Tech from beginning to end Thursday night inside the Murphy Center. Controversial plays and calls by officials in the closing seconds led to an MTSU 61-60 loss to the Yellow Jackets.
Georgia Tech had the advantage in the early going as they got off to a quick 7-0 lead. The Lady Raiders settled in after four minutes of play and with key points from Alex Johnson, Jess Louro, and Rebecca Reuter, the team began to make a comeback.
Despite questionable calls from the referees, MTSU battled their way to tie the game at 17-17 after a pair of free throws from Ty Petty.
It was a back-and-forth game from that point on until the end of the half as the lead changed eight times in the final seven and a half minutes, 14 total in the game.
Johnson and Reuter were forces in the post during the first half as they eight and seven points, respectively. Ty Petty, however, had just two points through the first 20 minutes.
The exciting matchup would be carried over until the final buzzer.
Down 61-58 with 58 seconds remaining, Johnson powered her way to a bucket to put her team down by one and get the crowd of 4,222 on their feet.
The Lady Raiders failed twice to get a board on the other end as the Jackets held possession until seven seconds when Abbey Sissom finally came down with a rebound and called timeout.
Following the huddle up, Ty Petty took the inbounds pass from Sissom and drove it to the corner where she dumped it off to Jess Louro.
Louro misses from deep, Reuter gets the rebound & goes up. There was contact but refs chose to let it go. It will be MT with .8 left. pic.twitter.com/uyOTPTBvD1
— Tyler Lamb (@Tlamb35) December 23, 2016
The Lady Raider’s tried to score once more with under a second left. The ensuing play was cut short due a Georgia Tech defender appearing to reach over the line to deflect the inbound pass. The referees again made no call for interference which caused Middle fans to erupt and both team’s emotions to show. If the referees had determined that the ball had been deflected while in the hands of the passer, Georgia Tech would have been initiated a technical foul.
On the final attempt, the ball was thrown in to Sissom in the block where she tried to go up with the ball, but was blocked by a Jacket.
Head coach Rick Insell declined to comment on the tonight’s officiating, but despite a 20-22 foul ratio in favor of Tech, fans took to Twitter to express their emotions.
Holy crap. This is how MT loses — Reuter pushed from behind, no call, then lose by 1. Should have been 2 FTs. WOW, that’s beyond bad https://t.co/aOoyQBSXcM
— Max Out the Murph (@maxoutthemurph) December 23, 2016
Worst officiating I have seen in 47 years of watching basketball tonight, the WHOLE game. Refs should never call another game. https://t.co/sOJwVBfRKY
— tom hamilton (@tom5393) December 23, 2016
Johnson led MTSU with 16 while Petty and Reuter each added 11.
The Lady Raiders fall now fall to 4-6 on the season and will look to clear their minds of the loss as Christmas and the new year approach.
“It’s definitely an emotional loss, but I think the main thing is just enjoying Christmas with our family right now,” said Petty. “Like coach said, ‘there’s nothing we can do about tonight’. We can’t linger on it. We get to go home and spend time with our family and get back in here and focus on Central Michigan.”
“We got a lot of games and I think a game like tonight, it’s just going to make us tougher. I’m happy that we were in that type of situation, that type of atmosphere.”
MTSU is back in action next Wednesday when they take on Central Michigan at home in a final battle before conference play. Tip-off is slated for 6 p.m.
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To contact Sports Editor Tyler Lamb (@Tlamb35), email firstname.lastname@example.org.