Story by Calvin White/Sports Editor
Murfreesboro, TN- Middle Tennessee women’s basketball (7-2) survived a late surge from the Houston Cougars (2-9) for a 68-61 win in the Murphy Center that was boosted by Kseniya Malashka’s 20 points off the bench.
Entering tonight’s contest, Houston was 2-8 overall but their record does not represent how good of a team it is. Seven of its eight losses were by single-digits and it forced an average of 25 turnovers per game.
“I’m very happy about the win,” Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Insell said. “They’ve got a very good basketball team. I don’t know how they’ve won just two games. I think they’re still going to have a chance to win their conference.”
After trailing by one at the end of the first quarter, the Lady Raiders once again dominated the middle quarters. It outscored Houston 47-26 in the second and third quarters combined to take a 62-42 lead into the final quarter.
Houston was not going to leave the Murphy Center without a fight so it did what it does best. Apply pressure and force turnovers. In the final 10 minutes of the fourth quarter Houston outscored Middle Tennessee 19-6 due in large part to 13 points off of nine MTSU turnovers.
Key stops and free throws down the stretch eventually iced the game for the Lady Raiders to secure its fifth straight victory entering Tuesday’s road trip to undefeated Rice to open Conference USA play.
“It was a lot of adjusting for us,” Jalynn Gregory said. “We hadn’t gone up against a team that was like that and so what I think we really had to do was just get used to what they were doing and go our pace and not speed up to them.”