Photo by Tyler Lamb / Sports Editor
It was a refreshing return to the Murphy Center for the Lady Raiders after a loss in the Conference-USA tournament. Middle Tennessee returned home on Thursday for a first round matchup against Morehead State in the National Invitational Tournament and won by a final score of 67-58.
The Lady Raiders seemed to have a hangover from their conference loss however, coming out flat.
This did not sit well with Head Coach Rick Insell.
“That was the worst exhibition I’ve had played here in my twelve years of coaching,” Coach Insell said. “We just didn’t show up at any position.”
Alex Johnson led the way for the Lady Raiders. She posted a double-double, scoring 26 points and tying her career high with 12 rebounds. Ty Petty wasn’t far behind, scoring 22 points, including three baskets from behind the arc.
Lady Raiders Battled Inside
The Lady Raiders went to work in the the low post in this game. Every time Alex Johnson, Gabby Lyon or Rebecca Reuter got position inside, each had a good look at the goal.
Those good looks didn’t translate into points though, something Insell knows has to be better
“We were 12-32 from the two-foot line,” Coach Insell said about the post play. “You don’t win basketball games doing that.”
Although Middle Tennessee lost the rebound battle (43-41), MT held an edge in points in the paint, outscoring Morehead State 30-21 inside.
This wasn’t the best shooting performance for the Lady Raiders. Luckily, they wouldn’t need a strong one.
The Lady Raiders shot only 36 percent from the field, which the players know will not be enough moving forward.
“We didn’t do what we needed to do,” Johnson said, reflecting on the game, “I went 10-24… I’ve got to put the ball on the glass and knock them down.”
Although Middle Tennessee shot 6-12 from behind the arc, three of those came from Ty Petty. The difference in the game may have come down to free throws. Middle Tennessee was able to shoot 20 free throws, converting on 15. Morehead State only shot eight free throws.
Don’t expect the Lady Raiders to come out flat in their next outing. Ty Petty knows this team can’t afford any more slip-ups.
“We can’t take any game for granted. We can’t play down to our opponents,” Petty said about bouncing back next game. “We just got to give our all and leave it all out on the floor.”
Coach Insell has his own plan, and it’s pretty simple.
“Work,” Coach Insell said when asked about the team’s plans for the next few days. “We are going to come back in like it’s the first day of practice. Tomorrow will be a tough practice, so will Saturday. We may be tired on Sunday but we have to get some things ironed out.”
The Lady Raiders will play at home for the second round against Wake Forest on Sunday at 2 p.m.