By Rickey Fuquay, Jr.//Contributing Writer
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Middle Tennessee (21-8) used a dominating second half to hammer Louisiana Tech 77-58 at Bartow Arena, advancing to the semifinal round of the Conference USA tournament.
It was a tight game the whole first half, as neither team led by double digits. MTSU jumped out to a 13-6 advantage, but the Lady Techsters responded with a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to one with 11:59 left in the opening frame.
MTSU answered with a 9-4 run, but the Lady Techsters responded with a 9-4 run of their own to trim the deficit to one again with 3:47 left in the first half. The Blue Raiders ended the half on a 10-6 run and took a 36-31 into the half.
The Blue Raiders got no help from the conference’s leading scorer Olivia Jones in the first half, as she sat on the bench for much of the half after picking up three fouls in the first seven minutes of the game.
The second half was completely dominated by the Blue Raiders. They consistently extended their lead throughout the final twenty minutes, going up by as much as 20, 69-49, with 3:53 left in the second half.
MTSU breezed through the final three minutes, cruising to a 77-58 victory for their third-consecutive win overall, and second-straight appearance in the C-USA tournament semifinals.
It was a career day for sophomore guard Ty Petty. She led the way with a career-high 28 points on 9-of-18 shooting. The sophomore also recorded four rebounds, five assists and four steals. Also in double figures for the Blue Raiders was junior guard Brea Edwards, who tallied 17 points, six rebounds, two assists and three steals.
Junior forward TiAnna Porter, who also added 17 points, eight rebounds and three blocks for the Blue Raiders.
For the Lady Techsters (16-15), Chrisstasia Walter led the way with 20 points. She also had seven rebounds, six assists and three steals in the game.. Whitney Frazier reached double-double status for La. Tech, scoring 18 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
It was a fantastic performance inside as the Blue Raiders recorded 39 rebounds, scored 44 points in the pain and blocked four shots, three of those attributed to Porter.
The Blue Raiders were aggressive on defense, turning over the Lady Techsters 18 times, and they turned those 18 miscues into 21 points.
The second-seeded Blue Raiders now advance to play third-seeded Southern Miss for a spot in the C-USA Championship Game.
MTSU was swept by the Golden Eagles in the regular season. The Golden Eagles rallied to win the first meeting 77-75 in overtime. The second meeting produced a similar result, as Southern Miss rallied for a 70-65 win in overtime.
Tip-off is set for 10 a.m. CST Friday. The game can be seen on the CBS Sports Network.
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