Photo by Tyler Lamb / Sports Editor
A strong second half performance fueled a Lady Raider victory over Austin Peay Saturday afternoon inside Murphy Center in front of a crowd of 2,227. Sophomore forward Alex Johnson dominated from the tip-off to the final buzzer, ending her night with a season-high 28 points.
Middle Tennessee opened the first quarter with uncharacteristic play that mainly included poor passes, three of which sailed over the heads of their teammates for turnovers. Sophomore forward Alex Johnson was a stable force the team in the early going as she accounted for eight of the team’s first 11 points.
The rest of the team fell in line during the second quarter as six Lady Raiders went into halftime with a bucket.
The story of the first half, however, was Austin Peay’s shooting percentage. The Lady Governors shot 50 percent (13-26) from the floor and 66.7 percent (6-9) from three-point range. The Lady Raiders forced them to take poor shots numerous times in the first half, but Austin Peay couldn’t miss.
The Lady Govs went into halftime on a 6-0 run and up 33-34.
“Well I didn’t think we were playing that bad of defense in the first half,” head coach Rick Insell said. “They were knocking down every shot they got. In the second half, we did a better job on both ends of the floor.”
Insell said he didn’t change anything going into the second half but instead reiterated to his team that they needed to get up the line to guard their opponent.
MTSU returned the favor from behind the arc in the 3rd quarter as the team shot 3-of-4 from deep range and didn’t allow Peay to hit a single 3-pointer (0-6).
Jess Louro hit a wide-open three to tie game back up at 38-38, a play that Insell believes may have changed the course of the game.
“The biggest shot of the night I thought was Jess Louro over in the dead corner to start the second half,” said Insell. “It kind of got us rolling when she knocked that three in.”
Moments later, Petty knocked down two free throws followed by a Rebecca Reuter 3-ball to give them a five point lead, 43-38.
Reuter finished with 14 points, going 3-of-3 from behind the arc. She also finished with 10 rebounds to give the forward her second career double-double.
MTSU, lead by Johnson, would go a on a tear to end the third quarter, closing it out on a 14-1 which helped boost the team to a 31 point victory.
Gabby Lyon also finished with nine points and four rebounds. Combined, Lyon, Johnson, and Reuter finished with 51 points and 20 rebounds.
Ty Petty chipped in 10 points on Saturday. She also moved into ninth place in program history for career assists with 395.
MTSU was also able to allow their fewest turnovers in a single-game on the year (8).
The Lady Raiders have a short turnaround as they travel to to take on Missouri State this Monday. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.
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