Lady Raiders to play No. 5 seed Florida State in NCAA tournament

The Lady Raiders are back in the NCAA tournament after a dominating win over Old Dominion in the Conference USA championship game.

The 70-54 win in the C-USA final secured the title for the Lady Raiders, and a dominating performance from Middle Tennessee guard Ty Petty showed exactly what the team could do in “The Big Dance.”

“Just being able to see us on that screen, that was exciting,” Petty said after the bracket was unveiled. “Especially to experience it with the team, coaches and all these fans.”

MTSU will open the 2016 NCAA tournament as a No. 12 seed, and will head to College Station, Texas, to take on the No. 5 seed Florida State Seminoles.

“I think Florida State’s got a good team, but they’ve lost three out of the last five games,” MTSU coach Rick Insell said. “What we got to do is we have to prepare our team. Everything else will take care of itself.”

Insell spoke about the well-rounded effort the Lady Raiders showed throughout the conference tournament en route to securing the automatic bid, and what lies ahead as they prepare for the Seminoles.

“It wasn’t a shock. At this point any game, I don’t care who we play, it’s just an honor and a blessing to be playing in the NCAA tournament right now,” MTSU’s Brea Edwards said. “I guess I never thought this day would’ve come. It’s an honor to still be playing in March.”

The Seminoles finished the regular season with a 23-7 (13-3 ACC) record in a tough ACC conference, led by Notre Dame. The Florida State offense is led by sophomore Shakayla Thomas, who’s averaging 17.1 PPG and 5.5 RPG this season.

Three of the five Seminoles starters average over 10 points per game this season.

“Florida State, what you gotta look at guys, everybody’s tough,” Insell said. “You go into the tournament, you play your game, don’t try to be something you’re not.”

If MTSU’s Petty and fellow senior Edwards can continue their dominant run of late, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for an upset come tournament time. Petty secured MVP honors in the conference tournament and will prove to be a difference maker in the Lady Raiders’ first round matchup.

“I know our coaches are gonna get us ready,” Petty said. “Back at it, tomorrow on the hardwood, just to get ready to go down there and continue to play how we’ve been playing.”

The Lady Raiders and the Seminoles face off Saturday at 12:30 p.m. CT and will be televised on ESPN2.

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To contact Sports Editor Connor Grott, email or follow him on Twitter at @Connor_Grott.

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