By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
Facing off against the backdrop of a loud and spirited crowd from Murfreesboro City Schools for the Blue Raiders' Education Day, the two teams battled back and forth through the opening quarter with the Golden Eagles (3-3) prevailing 19-18 in the first stanza.
However, the Blue Raiders (4-2) charged forward, outscoring Tech 21-8 in the second quarter, then 44-18 in the second half to give MTSU its third straight win over the Golden Eagles and 20th in the last 23 meetings. Tech still leads the all-time series 55-47.
The two teams swapped leads back and forth five times but Middle Tennessee only hit two field goals in the first quarter as Courtney Whitson completed the only two shots from the floor in six tries. Instead, the Blue Raiders collected 13 of 18 points at the charity stripe as the Golden Eagles were whistled seven times with Hurst and Anna Walker collecting two of those.
Jordan Brock helped propel the Golden Eagles as she was 3-for-4 in the opening 10, including a perfect 3-for-3 from long range, to collect nine points. She later had last-second heave that went in as both teams were heading to the locker rooms, but the officials waved the shot off after review.
Instead, it was a glimpse at some of the Golden Eagles' young talent as the redshirt freshman Hurst and true freshman Grimes led the way in scoring. Hurst finished the game with a 3-for-8 day, including 2-for-3 from 3-point range and 2-for-2 at the stripe, while also pulling down three rebounds with an assist, two steals and a blocked shot. Grimes was 3-for-9 and 4-for-6 from the line with four boards, an assist, a steal and a block.
After the first quarter, the Blue Raiders made their adjustments as they hit 9-of-11 from the floor in the second quarter as Kseniya Malashka didn't miss a shot, collecting eight of her game-high 19 points in the quarter on 3-of-3 shooting from the floor and 2-for-2 at the stripe. Her efficient shooting didn't end there as she ended the day 7-for-9 and 5-for-5 at the line.
The free-throw line proved to be the enemy for the Golden Eagles as Middle Tennessee ended the day 26-of-28 from the stripe, not missing a try until midway through the fourth quarter. Savannah Wheeler scored 10 of her 16 points at the line with a perfect day. Conversely, Tech was 7-for-16 with Grimes knocking down a team-high four.
After Tech shot 50 percent from the floor in the first quarter, the Golden Eagles hit a cold snap, hitting just nine of its 33 remaining field goals in the contest -- a .273 completion rate -- and was 5-for-14 at the line in the final three periods.
MTSU also won the battle on the boards 38-23. Walker led Tech with five caroms, while Whitson had nine to lead the Blue Raiders on the glass.
Anastasiia Boldyreva also scored in double-digits for MTSU, collecting 10 points. The Blue Raiders ended the day shooting 51 percent (26-of-51).
Now with finals week ahead, the Golden Eagles are off until next Saturday, Dec. 10, as Tech hosts Alabama A&M in a 1 p.m. matinee at the Eblen Center.
Tickets for Tech basketball are on sale. Call (931) 372-3940, visit the Eblen Center ticket office or visit TTUsports.com to order.
Photo | Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information