Photo by Tyler Lamb / Sports Editor
The Middle Tennessee Lady Raiders (7-6, 2-0 C-USA) grabbed their third-straight win in Thursday’s game against Rice (9-5, 0-3 C-USA). inside the Murphy Center. Strong performances from Ty Petty (24 points) and Alex Johnson (22 points) helped give MTSU the win 71-61 in front of 2,806 fans.
Scoring was hard to come by in the first few minutes as neither team notched five points until current Ann Meyers Drysdale National Player of the Week Ty Petty connected on a runner in the lane with 5:25 left in the first quarter.
An 8-0 run in the second quarter got MTSU to a 19-9 lead. The Lady Raiders were able to keep the Owls out of double-digits until 6:30 left before halftime when junior guard Wendy Knight stole to the ball and took it coast-to-coast for the score.
This caused the Owls to go on a 7-2 run and pull within five. Petty would quiet the Rice bench by connecting from deep to lengthen the lead once more.
Petty would continue her good play, tallying nine points in the second quarter to give her a game-high 11 going into the half.
A Lexie Ducat layup and a Jasmine Goodwine jumper gave Rice their first lead of the night just a minute into the second half.
This would be the beginning of six lead changes over the next 3:03 minutes.
Rice would take their biggest lead of the night at 35-32 and looked to be picking up steam.
Petty would step up when they need her most as she a hit a deep three followed by an and-1 in just 19 seconds to give the lead back to MTSU, 37-35.
While Rice competed hard, they never regained the lead from that point on.
Johnson completed an old-fashioned three-point play with 1:13 left in regulation to to put MTSU up by 10 and out of reach of any Rice comeback.
The win over Rice improves the program’s record over the Owls to 5-0 all-time.
Petty’s most recent performance, including Thursday’s, shows that she is a force to reckoned with. The senior continues to prove that she has the ability the take over the game, not just by scoring.
Petty recorded eight assists and four rebounds in Thursday’s win, boosting her season average to 5.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game.
For Insell, however, it’s Johnson who makes the team go.
“Go to Johnson,” Insell said of what’s been a constant in the past three wins. “It’s not real mind-bending, we’re not splitting atoms here, [we] go to Johnson.”
“We put the ball in Petty’s hands, let her make the decision…go to Johnson.”
Petty also agrees that Johnson’s qualities give her an advantage in the post.
“With A.J., she’s great around the block,” said Petty. “When she gets it on the block, she’s either going to score or get fouled. That’s one thing that coach has been hard on her for, just going, getting the ball, and being strong.
Petty said Johnson also does a great job of reading what the defense hands her.
“They are double-teaming and sometimes triple-teaming [Johnson]. Now this is where A.J. steps up, she shows her vision,” said Petty. “She gives the other girls on the court the opportunity to score. ”
Forward Rebecca Reuter and guard Abbey Sissom each finished with eight points followed by Gabby Lyon with six. Lyon also recorded nine rebounds.
The MTSU women are back in action Saturday against North Texas. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m at the Murphy Center.
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