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Middle Tennessee falls on the road to Western Carolina

Blue Raiders led by Lanning's 16 points.

December 7, 2008 · Athletic Communications

CULLOWHEE, N.C. - Middle Tennessee found itself down by double digits at halftime and never fully recovered in dropping a 68-59 decision at Western Carolina in non-conference women's basketball action inside the Ramsey Center Sunday afternoon in Cullowhee, N.C.

A pair of 3-pointers, one each by junior Jackie Pickel and sophomore Emily Queen, gave the Blue Raiders an early 10-5 lead with just over three minutes passed. Neither team would score for nearly the next two minutes, but the Lady Catamounts' Heather Swayne hit a jumper at 14:55 to kick start a 12-0 WCU spurt over the next five-and-a-half minutes. Emily Clarke, a member of the All-Southern Conference Freshman Team a year ago, tallied seven-straight markers for Western Carolina (3-4) during the run.

Junior Alysha Clark halted the streak at 8:25 and sophomore Anne Marie Lanning added another bucket 30 seconds later to draw the Lady Raiders within three, 17-14. Lanning kept Middle Tennessee (5-3) within five, 23-18, at 4:59, but the hosts pulled away once again behind a half-closing 13-4 spurt to take a 36-22 lead into the locker rooms.

The advantage grew to as high as 15, 39-24, at 18:12 when Lauren Powell connected on her school record 181st 3-pointer. The Blue Raiders nailed the next seven points, started by a Brandi Brown trey, to trim the gap to single digits at eight, 39-31. Brown then hit her second triple in a row for a 41-34 score.

The deficit hovered around eight points for the next five minutes before MT tallied five-straight points, capped by a Lanning 3-pointer at 7:09, to pull within four, 50-46. Western Carolina then countered with a 9-0 run of its own to push the lead back to 14, 60-46, on a Kendra Carroll layup with 3:38 to play.

The Lady Cats kept their distance by using their advantage at the foul line, where they shot 19-of-31 compared to just 7-of-13 for the Lady Raiders. Twenty-nine fouls were called on Middle Tennessee forcing three starters to foul out and two others to finish with four infractions.

Clarke paced all scorers with 25 points, while Carroll added 11 and Brooke Johnson contributed 10 to give Western Carolina a trio in double figures. Kristen Feemster grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds.

Lanning scored a team-high 16 points for Middle Tennessee, while Emily Queen added her third career double-double, and first of the season, with 15 points and a season-high 13 boards.

The Blue Raiders will return to action with a 6 p.m. (CST) Thursday contest at No. 7/9 Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn.

Middle Tennessee Quotes
Head Coach Rick Insell
On team's play after cutting it to four in the second half
"We just three or four bad decisions in a row. We busted our tails all night just to get back to that point and once we got there, we tried some things that didn't work. Where we had used our heads before, today we didn't. I thought Tina (Stewart) came in and played tough once Chelsia (Lymon) fouled out."

On the game overall
"Nothing was in sync. We are our own worst enemy. You have to go into other people's gyms and play better than we played. We didn't deserve to win this game. They just out played us. We got down towards the end and missed a couple of blockouts on missed free throws. That was crucial because it is something we work on every day in practice. We just took it for granted. We aren't good enough, especially on the road, to have those types of mistakes."

On the next game
"It certainly doesn't get easier, does it? We are going to have to play better. We didn't start the game today on fire and with that burn in our gut like we did at Oklahoma or at LSU."

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