In a meeting of two top-five teams in Conference USA, the early shooting and ironclad defense of the MTSU Lady Raiders (14-7, 6-3 C-USA) proved superior on Thursday night in the Murphy Center.
Freshman Aislynn Hayes led the charge for MTSU with 24 points, four assists, and six rebounds. Hayes found half of her points from the free-throw line.
The stat comes as the Lady Raiders continue to improve massively from the charity stripe as a team.
“I’ve been coming to the gym on my own just working out because I struggled early in the season on my free throws,” Hayes said.
MTSU Head Coach Rick Insell asserted post-game that he was not surprised by Hayes’ performance as “she comes from a family of winners.”
UTEP (12-7, 5-3) found itself putting MTSU on the free-throw line time and time again in the first half which helped light a fuse for a 14-point lead at halftime for the Lady Raiders.
Stud senior guard Katarina Zec struggled with eight points in 40 minutes of play as UTEP finished with its lowest scoring output since December.
“24 Points for Kobe”
In the wake of the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant Sunday afternoon, many players across all levels of basketball and sports paid tribute to the legendary basketball icon.
MTSU guard Taylor Lewis wrote tributes to Kobe as well as his daughter Gianna, who also passed away in the crash, on the side of her shoes.
But a big tribute came from Aislynn Hayes, whose 24 points matched the number Bryant wore with the Lakers.
“(Kobe) was a big influence on me, it hurt a lot when I heard the news and I had to play great for (Kobe) today and then I ended up scoring 24 for him,” Hayes said.
MTSU will stay at the Murphy Center to face UTSA on Saturday. The Roadrunners prior outing was a 39-point loss to UAB Thursday night.
Tip-off is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.
To contact Sports Editor Nathan Vaughan, email email@example.com.