Horton, Givens Lead Raiders on Senior Day
Blue Raiders tie school record for wins with 26February 24, 2007 · MT Media Relations
The Blue Raiders (26-3, 18-0 Sun Belt) fought off a valiant FAU squad with an 18-0 run in the second half after the Owls closed to within three at 41-38. Horton and Givens both scored eight points during the run. But even down 21 points with less than 10 minutes to play, Florida Atlantic did not go away.
The Owls answered with an 11-2 run to pull within 61-49 with 6:09 remaining, but FAU would get no closer. The Middle Tennessee seniors combined for the next eight points to finish off their final career game at Murphy Center.
Horton finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds, her second straight double-double and the 14th of her career. Givens had 31 points and five rebounds along with three assists and three steals.
The Blue Raiders tied the school record for wins with 26 and won their 23rd game in a row overall, second best in the nation only to top-ranked Duke. The 18 SBC victories is also a new league record, besting the 16-0 mark posted twice by Louisiana Tech.
Middle Tennessee struggled from the field for the entire game, hitting just 26 percent. Horton was the only player to find the goal with great consistency, making 11 of her 14 attempts from the field and 5-of-6 at the foul line. Givens hit 10-for-25 from the floor and 9-of-9 at the free throw line. The rest of the Blue Raiders were just 6-for-40 from the field.
Starr Orr grabbed nine rebounds, scored seven points, handed out four assists and made four steals. Orr's rebounding efforts were part of a 45-40 rebounding edge for Middle Tennessee on the glass.
In the first half Middle Tennessee led by as many as 10 and took a 32-26 advantage to the locker room. FAU committed 18 turnovers but hit 11-of-22 shots from the floor, while the Blue Raiders were only 12-of-46 from the field. Horton had 14 before halftime and Givens scored 11.
After the break the Owls matched Middle Tennessee for the first four minutes before hitting a six-minute scoring drought. The Blue Raiders went on the 18-0 run at that point, stretching the lead from three to 21 points.
The Blue Raiders now wait to see whom they will play in next week's quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Championships. Middle Tennessee will play at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, in Lafayette, La., at the Cajundome.
Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Insell
On today's game
"We didn't shoot the ball well today, as you can see by the percentages, but we won the ballgame and that's what counts. A lot of times on Senior Night, you get caught up in everything. Florida Atlantic played a tough game. They were very aggressive, as we well know, because they were aggressive when we played them down there. We're not pleased with the way we played, but we're pleased with a win, and we're pleased with the year."
On the pressure of being undefeated in Sun Belt play
"We say that there's not any pressure, but a lot of people are talking about it. The biggest thing was clinching. When we beat Western [Kentucky] there, that took a little bit off of us. We felt like if we won out, that would more or less clinch us a berth in the NCAA Tournament, and that's what we talked about before every game. It just kept mounting up, but the kids were able to withstand the load and I'm proud of what they did."
On seniors Chrissy Givens and Krystle Horton
"You couldn't have scripted it any better. You've got two kids that have played such a big part in Lady Raider Basketball history, and to come out today and do what they did is just another chapter in their book. You've heard what I think about these two, and nothing will change that 10 years from now. They made the transition from high school, not just for me but for my family, a lot easier than it could have been."
On the next step
"It's a different season now. Everybody's zeroed out; we've got no wins now. Really, we're going to be more concerned about some of the fundamentals we've had breakdowns in, and believe it or not, we're going to have some shooting drills."
Senior guard Chrissy Givens
On her four years at Middle Tennessee
"I've always said it's like a fairytale story, how we came in with 20 people in the stands, and each year we get better. We beat North Carolina, we beat North Carolina State, come in with Coach Insell and have the year we had last year, and now to finish it out, we're 18-0 in the Sun Belt. The records we've broken, the things we've done, I just don't want to wake up. Everything is just coming and coming, and it's something we never would have expected."
On regaining momentum
"When we get to clicking, it's hard to stop us. There's something about this team that whenever there's a moment where we're down, all of a sudden Starr [Orr] will get a steal, or Krystle [Horton] will snatch a great rebound, and it sparks us. We'll go on a run and who knows how long it will last? When we feel that it's slipping away, everybody knows it and everybody does something extra to get it back."
Senior forward Krystle Horton
On staying focused on Senior Day
"I ended it in a great way. I'm glad that I didn't come out nervous and all shocked about what happened before the game. We had to come back out and put it together. Like Coach said, we had to flip the light switch off after all that senior stuff."
Florida Atlantic Head Coach Chancellor Dugan
On Florida Atlantic's mindset coming into today's game
"I have been telling them all year long to stay positive and stay focused. It has been a big jump from the [Atlantic Sun Conference] and this is our first time playing in the [Sun Belt Conference] and I think we have played everybody very, very tough. We are very young and inexperienced, but I am real proud of them. It is a little hard to say you are 6-24, 2-16 in the league and you are proud of your team, but I am."
On holding Middle Tennessee to 26 points in the first half
"[Florida Atlantic] just wanted to play. We got out there and our switching defenses were good. I thought they were up because they outrebounded us. They are just so much longer than we are and that is what we have to do as far as recruiting - we have to get some longer players. Rick [Insell] plays pressure defense and I love pressure defense, too. I'm sure it will be a fun time every time we get together and it will be an exciting game every time we play."
On her player of the game
"Chrissy Givens has got to be the player of the game. She did what a senior does on Senior Night and I thought she played very, very well."
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