Story by Calvin White / Contributing Writer
Middle Tennessee dominated on both ends of the court all night to cruise past Wofford 86-56 in the opening round of the WNIT at Murphy Center.
A 24-9 first quarter deficit for the Terriers set the tone for the rest of the night, with five Lady Raiders finishing in double figure scoring.
“I was concerned about motivation,” Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Insell said. “Because a lot of teams go into the NIT, it’s like kissing your sister, I love my sisters, but you know… They don’t get motivated. Tonight, when they came out, they were ready to play.”
Freshman Jalynn Gregory paced MT early, knocking down four of her five 3-pointers in the first half to give her 15 points.
“It’s usually the first shot, it depends on what kind of night it’s going to be,” Gregory said. “But even if I miss the first shot, I always have to think that the next one is going in.”
Courtney Whitson finished one rebound shy of a double-double, tallying 11 points and nine rebounds while also dishing out four assists.
Kseniya Malashka and Anastasiia Boldryeva both dominated down low all night by scoring 15 points apiece. Boldryeva finished 6-9 from the floor while Malashka knocked down a 3-pointer to add to her five buckets in the paint.
“It still hurts,” Whitson said of the C-USA tournament loss. “But a sign of character is how you respond to situations like that. So, we had to get the right mindset and just be able to come out and win big.”
The Lady Raiders used a 17-1 run in the first quarter to jump out to a commanding 24-9 lead after the first frame. Wofford coughed the ball up 10 times and the Lady Raiders capitalized off those mistakes, scoring 10 of their 24 points off turnovers in the quarter.
Middle Tennessee took a 40-24 lead into the halftime break after holding Wofford to 29 percent shooting from the floor and Boldryeva scored 10 points in 10 minutes on the court.
MT continued to dominate in the third quarter, knocking down four of their nine 3-point attempts and holding Wofford to just four field goals in the quarter to take a 66-38 lead into the final period.
With 12 made 3-pointers, the Lady Raiders have now made the second most 3-pointers in a season in school history, with 306 so far this season. Middle Tennessee is only seven 3-pointers away from breaking the school record of 313 set in the 2009-10 season.
The Lady Raiders will host Wake Forest in the second round of the WNIT on Monday night at 6:30 p.m. Central time.