Middle Tennessee women’s basketball (14-2, 7-0 C-USA) is set to take on the Charlotte 49ers (7-9, 3-4 C-USA) on Thursday in the second meeting this season between the two teams.
In the first meeting back on Dec. 29, the Lady Raiders defeated Charlotte 71-46. Kseniya Malashka led MTSU with 22 points off the bench and Middle Tennessee’s defense suffocated the 49ers into a 39.1 shooting percentage for the game.
Dazia Lawrence is Charlotte’s leading scorer for the season, averaging 15.9 points per contest. Lawrence was held to a mere seven points on 3-for-11 shooting in the first meeting and will likely be the focal point of MTSU’s defensive game plan once again.
After trailing 16-11 after the first quarter in the matchup at the Murphy Center, MTSU won the remaining three quarters 60-30. All season long, the Lady Raiders have proven that it can win big despite slow starts.
“We knew they were tough inside,” Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Insell said after MTSU’s Dec. 29 win over Charlotte. “They’re not going to give you anything easy.”
MTSU forced 21 Charlotte turnovers in the previous meeting and turned them into 26 points. The Lady Raiders use their length and size very well to get in the passing lanes, get lots of deflections, and totally disrupt the offensive game plan of its opponent. If Middle Tennessee can replicate a similar defensive performance, it will make it hard for the 49ers to keep up.
Charlotte, much like most of the other Lady Raider opponents, has found no answer for Malashka. Malashka pivoted and spun all over the 49ers in the previous meeting. If she can establish her presence like she did in the first meeting, the Lady Raiders are primed for another big win.
With a win, Middle Tennessee will extend its winning streak to 13 and further tighten its grip on first place in the Conference USA standings.
Calvin White is the sports editor for MTSU Sidelines. If you have any information for a story, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.