Story by Jonathan Clark // Staff Writer | Photo by Austin Lewis // Sidelines Archive
The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (9-6, 3-1 C-USA) took on the Charlotte 49ers (9-6, 2-2 C-USA) in a big C-USA matchup Thursday night. The women edged out Charlotte 72-67 in their first game without junior forward Olivia Jones, who recently left the team for personal reasons.
The game started out rough for the Blue Raiders as they shot 41.9 percent from the field while allowing the 49ers to shoot 56.7 percent with six assists, recording back to back 20-point games.
“They knocked down some shots in the first half when we had a hand on the ball. We were in great position,” said Head Coach Rick Insell on the shooting from the opposition. “Now we were out of position four or five times but….there were several shots they just made plays.”
Freshman forward Alex Johnson also had a big game. She shot 60 percent from the field on her way to 15 points. She came up big in the fourth quarter when her team began looking for her in the low post.
“I definitely felt confident when I started getting the ball and was able to finish,” Johnson said about her performance. “I don’t think any of their defense really altered my shot…it’s a matter of me buckling down and putting the ball off the glass.”
Senior guard Brea Edwards recorded finished Thursday with a double-double and leads C-USA with three now on the season. Although she struggled from the field going four for 11, she ended the game with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Edwards made arguably the play of the game when she made a steal on the inbounds pass late in the fourth quarter to seal the game.
“I was just trying to buckle down on defense and get a stop. Really I saw one of the other players make eye contact with her [Charlotte Guard Lefty Webster] so I just jumped to the ball,” Edwards said about the game-sealing steal. “I thought it was going out but I made the extra effort to keep it in play and it was a good steal for us”,
Brea Edwards’ steal was one of many defensive plays the Blue Raiders made. They ended the game with nine steals and 19 forced turnovers.
“We work on that [defense] every day,” Insell said. “We spend most of our practice on it.”
The Blue Raiders will take on Old Dominion on Jan. 16 at the Murphy Center, in a matchup of two of the more winningest programs in women’s college basketball history. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.
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