Story by Calvin White/Sports Editor
Murfreesboro, TN- In its final home game of 2022, Middle Tennessee women’s basketball (9-2, 2-0 C-USA) started slow out of the gate but jump-started itself in the second quarter to run away with a 71-46 win over Charlotte (5-6, 1-1 C-USA) in the Murphy Center on Thursday night.
As usual, the Lady Raider defense suffocated its opponent. MTSU forced 20 Charlotte turnovers and held the 49ers to under 40 percent shooting.
Kseniya Malashka provided a much needed spark off the bench for the Lady Raiders by going deep into her arsenal of various pivots, spin moves, and scoop shots to score 22 points while also grabbing eight rebounds.
Courtney Whitson found her groove in the second half, sinking six of her nine shots from the field to tally 17 points while bringing down 10 rebounds to finish with the ninth double-double of her career and her third this season.
In her first start since her injury in Las Vegas, Alexis Whittington scored a season-high 16 points by shooting 3-for-4 from 3-point range and 5-for-6 from the free throw line.
“It feels so good to be back,” Whittington said. “I’ve been working hard in the training room this whole time and it just feels great. This is my last year so I’m soaking it in every game.”
After trailing 16-11 after the first quarter, MTSU went on a 15-2 run to end the first half and carry a 31-23 lead into halftime.
The Lady Raider defense proved to be too much for the 49ers in the fourth quarter. Charlotte turned the ball over seven times which led to 11 MTSU points and the Lady Raiders winning the quarter 23-8.
“We’re good defensively,” Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Insell said. “We’ve got a pretty good defensive team. You go back to Louisville, you go back to Belmont, you go back to Memphis, you come right on down, Rice, we’re a pretty good defensive team. And we locked in”