By Rickey Fuquay, Jr.//Contributing Writer
MURFREESBORO – Middle Tennessee (20-8, 14-4 C-USA) used a dominating second half performance to erase a four-point halftime deficit to defeat Florida Atlantic 73-60 on Senior Day Saturday.
Things got off to a shaky start for the Blue Raiders at the Murphy Center as the Owls (13-16, 7-11 C-USA) got off to an early 15-10 advantage to start the game with 11:57 left in the opening frame.
The two teams would go back-and-forth from there. However, MTSU answered with a 5-2 run to pull to within two points with 3:20 left in the first half. The Owls finished the half on a 7-5 run of their own to take a 34-30 lead heading into the locker room.
The Blue Raiders came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders. MTSU used multiple runs to take a 17-point advantage with 3:23 left in the second half.
An 8-4 run by Florida Atlantic at the end of the half was not enough to deny the Blue Raiders a 73-60 victory for their 12th-consecutive 20-win season.
The Blue Raiders finished with four players in double figures. Sophomore guard Olivia Jones led the way with 22 points, recording seven rebounds and two steals to lead MTSU to victory.
Junior guard Brea Edwards reached double figures as well, recording her second career double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds. She did most of her damage from beyond-the-arc, shooting 4-of-7 from three-point range.
Senior guard Shanice Cason scored in double digits in her final game in Murphy Center Saturday. Cason finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and a team-high six assists in her final home start.
Sophomore guard Ty Petty added 12 points on the day. The sophomore also grabbed three rebounds and dished out three assists.
The Blue Raiders did suffer one loss Saturday though. Junior guard Caroline Warden suffered a knee injury in the second half of the game. Head Coach Rick Insell confirmed that Warden had torn her ACL, ending her season.
This, paired with Cheyenne Parker’s dismissal, will hurt MTSU’s depth heading into the Conference USA Tournament next week.
For the Owls, junior guard Ali Gorrell scored a game-high 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field. Gorrell also grabbed eight rebounds in the game.
It was a fantastic performance inside as the Blue Raiders scored 40 points in the paints. They also blocked four shots, three of them credited to junior forward TiAnna Porter.
MTSU’s defense forced FAU into 17 turnovers, turning these turnovers into 22 Blue Raider points.
The Blue Raiders now await their opponent for the 2015 Conference USA Tournament, which starts Wednesday in Birmingham, Ala. MTSU has already locked up a first-round bye and is guaranteed to open up C-USA Tournament play on Thursday.
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