Women’s basketball: Top 5 players to watch in 2017-18

Story by Timothy Carroll / Contributing Writer

Photo by Devin P. Grimes / MTSU Sidelines

The Middle Tennessee Lady Raider basketball team enjoyed a strong showing last season by finishing the year with a 15-3 record in Conference USA play, 23-11 overall and a second-place finish in the conference standings.

Their record was enough for them to earn an invitation to play in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, where they advanced all the way to the third round before losing to the eventual second-place finisher Georgia Tech by a score of 70-57.

With the season tipping off in a few months, Middle Tennessee fans have reason to be excited and can expect this year’s team to make some noise in C-USA. Here are five players Blue Raider nation should keep an eye on this upcoming season.

1) Alex Johnson – Forward

Johnson led the team in scoring last season with a 20.2 point-per-game clip, good enough for second in the conference. Her efforts during the regular season were rewarded when she was named to the All-Conference USA First-Team. She is just the third player in program history to reach 1,000 career points in just their first two seasons and all signs could point to her just warming up. Middle Tennessee fans can expect her to be a dominant force on the court again this coming season.

2) Abbey Sissom – Guard

Sissom is the definition of a two-way player in today’s basketball world. She was named to the Conference USA All-Defensive team last season and is an efficient three-point shooter, as shown by her career 40 percent mark from long-range. She enjoyed a career game last season against UAB where she made eight of her nine three-point attempts, setting a C-USA record for three-point percentage in a single game at 88.8 percent. She should continue bringing stout defense and a reliable shot to the Lady Raiders this season.

3) Gabby Lyon – Forward

Lyon was the team’s most effective threat off the bench last season and is an excellent rebounder. This was evidenced by her finishing 11th in the conference in offesive rebounding, grabbing 2.6 offensive boards a game. Her efforts were rewarded with the Conference USA Sixth Player of the Year award. She will once again be an integral part of this team’s success this season.

4) Rebecca Reuter – Forward

Reuter is an underrated contributor to the team’s success. She brings excellent three-point shooting to the table, as shown by her 43 percent mark last season. She has proven she can explode on offense on any given night, such as when she put up 23 points against Charlotte or when she put up an 18-point, 12-rebound double-double against FIU. She is an excellent player who can quietly contribute to the team in a big way.

5) Zeynep Canbaz – Guard

Canbaz is a transfer student from Western Nebraska Community College where she played for two seasons and averaged 9.1 points per game. She brings excellent ball control as well, seeing as she averaged 4.1 assists per game last season. With the departure of Ty Petty, she will most likely act as the main facillitator for the team this upcoming season.

To contact Sports Editor Rusty Ellis, email sports@mtsusidelines.com.

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