Photo by Tyler Lamb / Sports Editor
It was a heartbreaking ending for the Lady Raiders (21-10) as they fell in semifinal action to the Southern Miss Lady Eagles (23-9) by a final of 59-54.
They had a chance late when a personal foul by Southern Miss gave Middle Tennessee the ball with 17 seconds left to play and the team down by three.
Golden Eagles called for the charge, giving the Lady Raiders a little life here with 17 seconds to go pic.twitter.com/CdU1PXBM1j
— Tyler Lamb (@Tlamb35) March 11, 2017
Ty Petty had a good look from behind the arc but the attempt clanged off the back of the rim.
Attempt to tie the game with a three is unsuccessful & the Lady Raiders are forced to foul. pic.twitter.com/HuYn0NW90u
— Tyler Lamb (@Tlamb35) March 11, 2017
They fell in the closing seconds to Southern Mississippi, sending the Golden Eagles to the Conference USA Championship game.
Rebecca Reuter played well posting 15 points on 70 percent shooting and seven rebounds. Reuter knew that the Lady Raiders had to be tough in order to win, as more than a game was at stake.
“I knew we had to rebound the ball to win the game,” a very emotional Reuter said, “I just wanted to win this one for Ty [Petty].”
Ty Petty also had 15 points and led the team with nine rebounds. Jess Louro was playing well before she left the game with a wrist injury and would not return. Early diagnosis is a broken wrist but more test will be done. Louro finished with six points and five rebounds while only playing 17 minutes.
Back and Forth Game
Neither team could get anything going for much of the game. Both teams would have multiple stretches where they would be scoreless for minutes at a time and the Lady Raiders trailed going into the half 27-25. They fought back in the third quarter and would took a six-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
After pushing the lead up to eight, Southern Miss buckled down and took over the final five minutes of the game. For head coach Rick Insell, it all boiled down to execution.
“[Southern Miss] made the plays down the stretch when they had to. The last five minutes, that’s what the game is all about,” Insell said, “They made some big shots. I tip my hat to them.”
The fourth quarter proved to be pivotal, as Southern Miss stepped it up when it mattered most. They shot 66 percent in the fourth compared to 28 percent for the Lady Raiders.
Getting Away From Lady Raider Basketball
Although Middle Tennessee won the battle on the boards, 42-35, this wasn’t enough to give them the win. They got away from what they do best: Feeding the post.
They shot 28 three-pointers and only made six of them. In a game as close as this one, turnovers were huge. The Lady Raiders had 16 turnovers and gave up 16 points off of them. They would end up going scoreless from the field the last two minutes of the game, while allowing Southern Miss to go on an 8-0 run to close the game out.
Foul Trouble a Factor Down The Stretch
The Lady Raiders’ best interior defenders got in foul trouble and were handicapped down the stretch. Alex Johnson, Gabby Lyon and Rebecca Reuter all had four fouls. This opened up the floor for Southern Miss and allowed them to get themselves going towards the end of the game.
“We missed some easy defensive assignments,” Coach Insell said, “They hit some threes that I didn’t account for.”
Aside from the fourth quarter, the Lady Raiders played well on defense. They held Southern Miss well under 40 percent shooting through three quarters and less than 25 percent shooting from behind the arc.
The Lady Raiders will return home tomorrow. Coach Insell will meet with Chris Massaro, MTSU’s Athletic Director, about a possible tournament invitation.
“We could get an invite, could not. With our RPI they have to look at us, but I still don’t know.” Coach Insell said about the rest of the season.
Final MTSU stats
Final MTSU stats: pic.twitter.com/Xj3g8544wA
— Rusty Ellis (@RustyEllis13) March 11, 2017