Big Second Half Carries Raiders to 68-60 Victory

Givens, Horton both record double-doubles in victory

February 22, 2007 · MT Media Relations
TROY, Ala. - Seniors Chrissy Givens and Krystle Horton both recorded double-doubles and 17th-ranked Middle Tennessee used a 16-5 run to start the second half to take the lead and then held on for a 68-60 victory over Troy Thursday night at Trojan Arena. The win is the 22nd in a row for the Blue Raiders, who also set a Sun Belt Conference record with their 17th SBC win of the season.

Middle Tennessee (25-3, 17-0 Sun Belt) eclipsed a mark set twice by Louisiana Tech in the Sun Belt, recording its 17th consecutive win in conference play. The Blue Raiders were led by Givens with 31 points and 13 rebounds, her sixth double-double of the season, and Horton, who recorded 14 points and 10 rebounds.

The Blue Raiders struggled mightily from the field in the first half, shooting 34 percent, and the Trojans barely missed, hitting almost 60 percent for most of the half. Troy used a 24-6 run in the first half to open a lead as many as 11 points, the biggest deficit for Middle Tennessee since its last loss, November 26 at Tennessee.

Givens kept the Blue Raiders in the game with 19 points, while Horton added 10, including six at the foul line.

The epitome of the half came in the final seconds, when Jackie Pickel missed a good look from 3-point range, but Starr Orr grabbed the rebound and took a one-handed shot from about four feet just as the buzzer expired, only to have it roll all the way around the rim and miss. Still Middle Tennessee trailed just 36-33 at the break.

In the second half Amber Holt scored six of the first 12 points of the half for the Blue Raiders and Givens gave Middle Tennessee the lead with a bucket with 15:02 remaining. Middle Tennessee built the lead to as many as 12 points in the second half at 63-51 with 4:16 to play, but the Trojans refused to go away.

Troy went on a 9-2 run over the next three minutes to close to within five with 1:26 left, but Latoya Barclay hit two free throws to seal the victory with 37 seconds remaining.

The turning point of the second half may have come with just under five minutes remaining in the game and Troy down just six points. Troy's Amy Lewis beat her defender on a backdoor cut and had an easy lay-up, but she missed the gimme and the Blue Raiders came back down, with Barclay hitting a 16-footer from the wing to extend the lead back to eight. Givens then had two straight buckets to put Middle Tennessee up a dozen with just over four minutes to play.

Troy also went 6:20 at one point in the second half without a point, with the Blue Raiders outscoring the Trojans, 12-2.

Holt scored 14 points and had seven rebounds despite playing just 10 minutes in the first half after picking up two fouls. Givens was 15-for-29 from the field for 31 points, setting a career-high for makes and tying her career-high for attempts in a game. She also added six steals.

Horton was 8-for-9 at the foul line and also had a big bucket late in the game, hitting a lefthanded runner in the lane with 5:59 remaining.

"[Troy] played tough. We knew they had a good team. We just wore them down defensively, pressing them," head coach Rick Insell said. "I thought Latoya Barclay was the difference in the ballgame. She hit a big shot with all kinds of hands everywhere.

"Jackie [Pickel] came in and hit a big three for us, and then Chrissy [Givens] finally got it fired up. Krystle [Horton] had another big night and Amber [Holt] played well in the second half.

"The big thing was when we got behind, eight or nine points, we didn't panic. We came back, cut it to three at halftime. They scored right after halftime and then we shut them down the rest of the way. There wasn't anyone who didn't have a hand in this victory.

Middle Tennessee returns home Saturday for Senior Day, hosting Florida Atlantic at 3 p.m.

Middle Tennessee's game this Saturday, February 24, versus Florida Atlantic, tips off at 3 p.m., with Senior Day activities prior to the game. Four seniors - Chrissy Givens, Carden Cobb, Krystle Horton and Whitney Tate - will be honored prior to the game. The Blue Raider men's game follows at 7 p.m. at Murphy Center.

WOMEN'S HOOPS GEAR AVAILABLE AT LIGHTNING'S LOCKER ROOM: Middle Tennessee women's basketball t-shirts and sweatshirts as well as other gear is now available at Lightning's Locker Room, located on the track level at Murphy Center in the Southwest corner.

SUMMER CAMP DATES SET: Middle Tennessee's women's basketball camps have been set for the upcoming summer, with the Blue Raiders host four camps at Murphy Center. The Lil' Raider Camp is set for June 11-13 and Elite Camp will be held June 29-July 1. The two team camps are June 17-19 and July 26-28. Interested parties may call Assistant Coach Alli Clark at 615/898-5356 or may obtain a brochure at http://www.goblueraiders.com/content.cfm/id/23728.

SUN BELT CHAMPIONSHIPS TICKETS ON SALE: Fans may purchase ticket booklets for the Sun Belt Championships, scheduled for March 3-6 at the Cajundome in Lafayette, La., by calling the Middle Tennessee Ticket Office at 615/898-2103 or 1-888-YES-MTSU. Ticket booklets for the tournament are $84 for all eight sessions, which includes 14 total games. The ticket booklet covers both the men's and women's games. The Middle Tennessee women would begin action in the tournament on Saturday, March 3, with the semifinals on Monday, March 5 and the championship game set for Tuesday, March 6.

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.