Photo by Tyler Lamb / Sports Editor
The Lady Raiders play host to the No. 5 Louisville Wednesday night inside Murphy Center. This will be the 13th time the women have played against a top-five team at home since 1978. The program has yet to record a win in any of those past 12 matchups, but is confident that this might be the one the outcome is finally in their favor.
Head coach Rick Insell has had four days since his team lost to Virginia 51-63 to prepare for the Cardinals, a team he believes may be one of the best, if not the best team in the nation.
“I think they have a team that can win a national championship. I think they could very well be the best team that we’ve faced in here since I’ve been here 12 years,” said head coach Rick Insell.
“Now, are we afraid? Are we scared? No. But it’s a challenge for us. We’ve got to meet that challenge. It’s going to make us a better basketball team,” he said.
MTSU is coming off of a loss at Virginia where they kicked themselves in the foot throughput the first half. The Lady Raiders turned the ball over 14 times and didn’t connect on a three until the winding minutes of the second quarter.
The Cavaliers cashed in on the early turnovers scoring nine points. The two teams played even in the second half, 30-30. Without those early scores of mistakes, MTSU would have only lost by a three-pointer.
“We self-destructed,” said Insell. “We got out of our system, and when we do that, our chances of winning are slim.”
Because of the fouls, MTSU was forced to play new girls that didn’t have chemistry and hadn’t seen a lot of time together on the floor yet.
“We came back out of halftime and we had that same lineup some in the second half, but we were able to fight through it and do a pretty good job.
Louisville comes into Murfreesboro looking to play their third Tennessee opponent in a row. After beating UT Martin and Belmont by an accumulative score of 173-107, the Cardinals are looking to make it three straight wins to open their season.
Led by sophomore guard Asia Durr, Louisville is a run-and-gun type of team. They are known for being very fast on the break, but also one that will pull up for a three if they are left open.
During their first two matchups, Durr has lead the team is scoring with 24 and 18, respectively. In the Cardinals last win on Sunday, she shot 4-8 from deep range and ended her day 47.7 percent from the field.
Likely going head-to-head with Ty Petty, the Lady Raider standout is ready for the challenge.
“I just have to make sure she doesn’t catch the ball,” said Petty. “When she does catch it, just play her straight up and know that my teammates are out there to help me also.”
While the speed of the game may be faster than normal, forward Alex Johnson said she and her fellow posts are prepared to help each other in this one.
“The biggest thing is just running the floor hard as hard as you can every possession and then come out when you’re tired,” said Johnson. “Coach always says we have posts with experience who could come in for us so whenever we get tired, just let him know so that we can get our energy back and get back in the game. “
While the program has been held winless in all 12 of the top-five contests in Murfreesboro, both Petty and Johnson feel that this year’s group is confident they can be the ones to make history.
“I feel like we can do it. We just got to come out here and not play scared,” said Petty. “We have to come out here and get it our all and don’t take a possession for granted.”
“It’s not very often that you get a team like this to come into your home gym and the fans being able to experience it,” Johnson said. “Like coach keeps telling us, ‘buy into our system.’ They’re going to be more athletic and faster than us but as long as we stick to our system, run what we know how to run, I think we have a great shot at winning this game.”
Tip-off against Louisville is set for 6:30 p.m. Tickets are free to students who show their I.D.
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