Raiders Fall to WCU, 77-71
Holt scored 28, Burtts adds 12 in defeatDecember 2, 2007 · MT Media Relations
The loss is the second straight for Middle Tennessee (3-3) and ended a 14-game home winning streak for the Blue Raiders dating to last season. Western Carolina (5-1) won its third consecutive contest.
The two teams played a nip-and-tuck affair that featured 13 ties and 12 lead changes with neither squad leading by more than nine points.
The Lady Catamounts jumped out early in the game, 15-6, but the Blue Raiders put together a 13-1 run midway through the first half to take a 19-17 advantage. The two teams traded buckets the rest of the half, and Chevon Keith's 15-footer for WCU with five seconds remaining tied the score at 37 at the break.
The first 10 minutes of the second half were no different, with the teams trading blows, although WCU did much of its damage at the foul line. The Lady Catamounts were 16-of-23 at the charity stripe in the second half and 25-for-35 for the game. WCU offset its 26 turnovers by outrebounding the Blue Raiders, 53-27, including a 20-rebound effort from Brooke Johnson.
Neither club led by more than three points in the second half until consecutive buckets from Amber Holt gave the Blue Raiders a four-point cushion, their largest of the game, at 58-54 with 10:51 to play. But the Lady Catamounts scored the next eight points to take the lead for good, with Johnson completing an old-fashioned 3-point play, Feemster's jumper and a dagger of a 3-pointer from Lauren Powell, prompting a timeout by Middle Tennessee.
The Blue Raiders cut the deficit to one two minutes later after another Holt basket for two of her game-high 28 points, but then WCU starting knocking down foul shot after foul shot, pushing the lead back to as many as seven with 5:02 left.
Middle Tennessee would get no closer than three the rest of the way, although the Blue Raiders had the ball down one score several times down the stretch but came up empty each trip.
Holt scored 28 points on 13-of-22 shooting and added four rebounds, five assists and four steals. The other story of the game for Middle Tennessee was redshirt freshman Angelique Burtts, who had played just 18 minutes all season. The Conyers, Ga., native came off the bench to score 12 points and grab five rebounds in 11 minutes of action, providing a much-needed spark, especially on the offensive glass.
Powell led WCU with 17 points, while Monique Dawson scored 14 points, including a perfect 12-for-12 at the foul line, and Johnson added 12 points to go with her 20 rebounds.
Middle Tennessee hits the road again for three games, starting Wednesday at third-ranked Maryland at 6 p.m. CT. The Blue Raiders return home December 19 to open Sun Belt Conference action against Florida International.
Head Coach Rick Insell
On today's loss
"We are going to make plays and the bottom line is that in D-1 basketball, you have to make some plays. We didn't make any plays at Chattanooga and we had some opportunities [today] to grab the game around the neck and we didn't do it."
On the team's performance
"We didn't make [Western Carolina] work for those points. That's out fault. They did a good job and isolated Johnna [Abney]. We have to play Amber [Holt] so many minutes. I hate to have to do that, but I have no choice. Angelique [Burtts] came in and did well, she deserves this. She needs to practice and get conditioned, but she will get better. She needs to build on this today. If we had made them work for those points [at the end of the first half], then it would be different, but just having them go down and score is unacceptable."
On Middle Tennessee's rebounding
"We need to rebound the basketball and we haven't been doing it. All it is is going and getting [the ball]. We had opportunities to go and grab the ball around the net and we just didn't do it at all."
Freshmen forward Angelique Burtts
On her position on the team
"I need to keep working hard in practice and build on this. I can't take two steps back from here. My mentality is to rebound and play defense and I believe the scoring will come from that. That is what I look to do when I am in the game."
Senior forward Amber Holt
On today's game
"I think the difference was rebounding. If we would have boxed out then we would have scored a lot. They had 26 turnovers and we didn't score off them. If we would have made our free throws then we would have won the game. We need to bring what we do in practice out on the court on game days."
On Angelique Burtts
"She came out ready to play mentally and not just for herself. That's what we need not just for one game, but for all of them."
Western Carolina Head Coach Kellie Harper
On winning a close game on the road
"Anytime you can come in here and get a win that's a good thing. It's a tough environment to play in. They're well-coached and they're going to be a solid team this year. This is a good win for us."
On the tempo of the game
"The pace of the game was definitely dictated by Middle Tennessee. We knew it was going to be an ugly game. We have a tendency at times to turn the ball over and we knew that their pressure could cause some turnovers. We still had more than I wanted to have. It wasn't pretty, to be honest. I didn't think it was going to be a pretty game, watching them on tape and knowing how we play. I knew it was just going to be a grind."
On the keys to victory
"You can look at so many things in a close basketball game and say they were determining factors. We made our free throws down the stretch, and they probably didn't shoot the ball from the perimeter as well as they are capable of."
Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.
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