Saturday, February 4, 2023

Middle Tennessee downs No. 18 Louisville in the Murphy Center


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Story by Calvin White/Sports Editor

Murfreesboro- Middle Tennessee women’s basketball (5-2) dominated the second and third quarters on its way to a 67-49 victory over the No. 18 ranked Louisville Cardinals (5-4) at the Murphy Center.

The win was the first win over a ranked opponent for the Lady Raiders since December 28, 2011, when MTSU defeated No. 6 Kentucky 70-58 at the Murphy Center. It is the 11th win in program history over a ranked team and the sixth ranked win inside the Murphy Center.

Savannah Wheeler led all scorers with 23 points while Courtney Whitson added 16 points and 10 rebounds. Kseniya Malashka tallied 15 points and two blocks.

With Alexis Whittington out due to injury for the second game in a row, Courtney Blakely was inserted into the starting lineup once again. Blakely drew the tough assignment of guarding Louisville guard Hailey Van Lith. Van Lith averaged 21 points per game entering Sunday’s contest and Blakely held her to 12 points on 4-for-18 shooting.

“I can’t say enough about her, she’s a winner,” said Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Insell of Blakely. “I’ve said all along that we’ve got seven, maybe eight starters, and she’s one of them. It didn’t surprise me at all that she came in and did a great job.”

Trailing by one at the end of the first quarter, the Lady Raiders amped up its defense and held Louisville to just seven made shots combined in the second and third quarter. Middle Tennessee extended its lead to as much as 20 points in the third quarter.

The Lady Raiders held the Cardinals scoreless for 7:50 of game time between the 2:58 mark of the second quarter to the 5:08 mark of the third quarter.

“He’s Rick Insell,” said Whitson. “You’re going to get what you’re going to get. He’s a straight shooter. But we wanted this for him. I think coach Matt (Insell) talked to us this week, when he was out of practice or out of film session one day, and we all got a little emotional, just because we all wanted it to bad for him.”

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