Story by Calvin White/ Sports Editor
Murfreesboro- The Middle Tennessee women’s basketball team (4-2) dominated defensively, holding the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles (3-3) to just 45 points in a lopsided 83-45 victory at the Murphy Center on Thursday morning.
Sophomore guard Courtney Blakely was inserted into the starting lineup in place of defensive anchor Alexis Whittington who was injured in the Lady Raider’s win over Missouri State in Las Vegas last week.
Middle Tennessee did not skip a beat as Blakely tallied four steals and scored six of her 11 points off of Golden Eagle turnovers.
“They were big shoes to fill,” Blakely said of replacing Whittington in the starting lineup. “I was trying to be as much of a defensive presence as possible but I was ready and I wanted to step up for my team.”
38 points is the largest margin of victory for Middle Tennessee in 84 games against Tennessee Tech.
The Lady Raiders used their size to their advantage, outscoring Tennessee Tech 38 to 14 in the paint and outrebounding the Golden Eagles 38 to 23.
Middle Tennessee capitalized off of Tennessee Tech’s turnovers, scoring 24 points on 17 Golden Eagle turnovers.
After trailing by one at the end of the first quarter, the Lady Raiders took a 39-27 lead into halftime. Middle Tennessee shot 9-for-11 from the field in the second quarter while holding Tennessee Tech to just eight points in the frame.
“I thought they came out with a lot of energy, probably a lot more than we did,” Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Insell said of his team’s slow start. “We finally got settled in. We started playing better defense and started covering our assignments.”
Middle Tennessee nearly tied a school record for team free throw percentage, starting 26-for-26 before Anastasiia Boldyreva missed her final two free throws of the game.
The Lady Raiders will now prepare for Sunday’s game, a marquee matchup with the No. 18 ranked Louisville Cardinals.