Photo by Brent Beerends / MT Athletics
The Middle Tennessee Lady Raiders (10-7, 5-1) returned to the friendly confines of the Murphy Center on Thursday night to take on the Florida International Panthers (4-13, 2-4). MTSU started the game hot and never let up, cruising to a 95-43 win.
The Lady Raider defense was on full display early, as they held the Panthers to seven points on 18 percent shooting from the floor. The offense was exceptional as well, jumping out to a 12-3 lead early on a run punctuated by an Abbey Sissom three. MT shot 46 percent en route to a nine-point lead heading into the second quarter.
Middle Tennessee benefited from great play by Rebecca Reuter, as she jump-started the offense with 12 first-half points and eight rebounds. Reuter continued to dominate down low in the second half, as she completed her double-double mere minutes into the third quarter. Alex Johnson played a big game in the post as well, as she added a team-high 22 points and five rebounds.
The Blue Raiders also got significant contributions from their wing players, as Sissom knocked down three shots from beyond the arc and scored 16 points. Sophomore Jess Louro struggled early but found her groove in the second half by knocking down three long-range shots of her own to score 11 points.
As a team, the Blue Raiders made ten of their 26 three-point attempts and shot 55.9 percent from the field on a night where every player that saw the floor scored.
While the final margin was as large as it was, head coach Rick Insell said after the game that he believed the Panthers just had an off night.
“They’re really not that bad of a team to be honest with you,” Insell said. “We just made some shots and played pretty good defense. I’m really proud of our players.”
Reuter tied her career-high in scoring with her 18 points and set a new personal best for rebounding with 12 boards. Both of her previous bests came against the Panthers last year.
“I guess FIU doesn’t like me right now,” Reuter said. “I guess it’s just a coincidence that it’s been against FIU both times, but I was just really trying to have a good game tonight so I tried to bring a lot of good energy.”
While the next opponent isn’t the most intimidating, Insell knows that his girls will have to stay focused when Florida Atlantic comes to town, a team that has given MTSU fits for years.
“FAU gives us more problems than any other team in the conference,” Insell said. “They have for the last 12 years.”
The Lady Raiders take on the FAU Owls at the Murphy Center this Saturday 2 p.m.