Clark lifts Middle Tennessee over Austin Peay
All-American scores 38 points on 18-of-22 field goalsNovember 21, 2009 · Athletic Communications
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - Two magical moments reached 1,000 tonight, as it was the play of All-American Alysha Clark that carried the No. 24-ranked Middle Tennessee women's basketball team to a hard-fought 84-73 victory at Austin Peay Saturday night inside the Dunn Center in Clarksville, Tenn. The game marked the 1,000th in program history, which is in its 35th season since elevating to varsity/scholarship status in 1975-76. It was victory No. 667 for the team in the 1,000 games.
Clark poured in points when the Blue Raiders needed her the most, hitting 18-of-22 field goals for 38 points in 37 minutes. She added another game high, 11 rebounds, for her third-straight double-double to open the campaign, the 20th at Middle Tennessee and 59th of her overall career. With the 38 points, she also surpassed the 1,000-point barrier as a Blue Raider. She needed just 17 to reach the plateau and extended her MT scoring total to 1,021 in a little over a year, 37 games to be exact, in the blue and white.
Fellow Preseason First Team All-Sun Belt selection Brandi Brown was the only other Middle Tennessee (2-1) player to reach double figures, as she hit three 3-pointers as part of a 13-point night. Brown started the season by missing her first nine shots from long range, but drained 3-of-5 against the Lady Govs.
The Blue Raiders fought through foul trouble the entire night, as all five starters had at least three fouls and two (Clark and Jackie Pickel) fouled out. The second-half foul count reached 12-0 before Austin Peay (1-2) was whistled for its first infraction at 8:10.
Five different Lady Govs tallied double-figure points, led by 14 from Nicole Jamen. The team's leading scorer coming in, Ashley Herring with an average of 14 points, was held to 11, while Whitney Hanley only posted two points, nine shy of her season average.
A tight game throughout, Pickel drained a trey at 10:31 as Middle Tennessee pushed its lead to 11 behind a 10-2 run to tie for its largest first half advantage. The Blue Raiders could never pull away during the opening 20 minutes, as the pesky Austin Peay squad trimmed the deficit to as close as five, 30-25, at the 3:34 mark. However, MT responded with a 13-7 spurt the remainder of the stanza to enter the locker rooms with a 43-32 edge.
The Lady Govs quickly evaporated the gap once again, shaving the margin to five, 45-40, following a triple by Brooke Faulkner at 17:50 of the second half. The Blue Raiders did not give up and used a Brown 3-pointer at 13:05 to stake a 13-point edge, 62-49.
Austin Peay was able to stay close, however, due to the discrepancy in fouls. The Lady Govs knocked down 12-of-13 charity tosses over the next eight minutes to show no signs of letting up and pulling within five, 72-67, with exactly five minutes to play.
Middle Tennessee then turned to Clark for its next three layups, pushing the lead back to double digits and holding off the hosts.
The Blue Raiders ended the contest by shooting the best they have thus far this season, 34-of-59 (57.6 percent), including a 17-of-28 (60.7 percent) effort during the first half.
Middle Tennessee will return to action at 7 p.m. Wednesday when it plays host to No. 5 Tennessee inside the Murphy Center. The two teams are meeting in Murfreesboro for the first time in 30 years.
Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.
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