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Blue Raiders Turn Back Western Kentucky 68-63

January 8, 2006 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee women's basketball (8-6, 1-0 SBC) tipped off the Sun Belt Conference portion of the season in dramatic fashion, with a 68-63 victory over Western Kentucky (10-4, 0-1 SBC) Sunday in front of a crowd of 3,308 in the Murphy Center.

After leading by as many as 17 in the second half, Middle Tennessee watched its comfortable lead dwindle when Western Kentucky went on an 18-4 run, in a six minute span, to cut the Blue Raider lead to one. Western Kentucky had a chance to tie the game when Tiffany Porter-Talbert hit a bucket and was fouled but failed to convert the three-point play.

Junior guard Chrissy Givens came back, with 52 seconds remaining, and arguably hit one of the biggest shots of the season when she drained a three-pointer on the right side of the arch to give the Blue Raiders a four-point lead. Middle Tennessee forced a Lady Topper turnover with 38 seconds remaining which forced Western Kentucky to start fouling to stop the clock. Givens was fouled, but she missed the front end of a one-and-one and the Lady Toppers Crystal Kelly picked up the rebound.

Western Kentucky came back down the court and had two chances to cut into the Blue Raider lead but Porter-Talbert's shot was blocked by freshman Brittany Pittman and Taylor Kopple's jumper missed the mark. Givens came away with the defensive rebound with six seconds remaining and sealed the win for the Blue Raiders.

The start of the game was like two prize fighters circling the ring. It took almost a minute for either team to score, with Middle Tennessee drawing first iron when Tia Stovall hit a bucket at the 19:09 minute mark.

It was nip and tuck for the first four minutes of the game, but a decisive moment for Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky came with 15:41 remaining in the first half. Western Kentucky's Crystal Kelly, who was averaging over 20 points a game, had to sit out the remainder of the half with three fouls.

Middle Tennessee capitalized on the Lady Topper's loss and went on a 27-17 run after leading 12-7 before Kelly went out of the game. The Blue Raiders led by a decisive 15 points, 39-24, at the half.

The Blue Raiders connected on a season-high seven three-pointers in the game with Givens collecting a career-high three. Middle Tennessee forced 21 Western Kentucky turnovers and scored 22 points off Lady Topper miscues.

Givens led all scorers with 23 points and also had six rebounds and five assists. Junior Krystle Horton recorded her first double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds and Starr Orr added 12 points.

Middle Tennessee plays its first Sun Belt road game of the season when the Blue Raiders travel to Jonesboro, Arkansas to take on Arkansas State. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m.

NOTES:

HORTON REACHES MILESTONE: Junior Krystle Horton became the 18th player in school history to score 1,000 points when she tallied 10 points in the win over Western Kentucky. Horton joins current teammate Tia Stovall as members of the prestigious 1,000-point club. The Murfreesboro native now has 1,008 career points.

THREE IN A ROW: With the win over Western Kentucky today, Middle Tennessee has now defeated its conference rival three straight times dating back to last season. Overall, the Blue Raiders have won four of the last five meetings between the two schools with the lone loss during that stretch coming at WKU last season in overtime.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE: Krystle Horton recorded her first double-double of the season and the ninth of her career with 10 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Western Kentucky. The 10 rebounds matched a personal-best achieved eight other times over her career and eight of those caroms came on the offensive end.

20 AGAIN FOR CHRISSY: Junior Chrissy Givens recorded her ninth 20-point game of the year with 23 points on 8-for-17 shooting against Western Kentucky. The Monroe, La., native has now scored 20 or more points in six straight home games. Givens, who is averaging 20.0 points a game for the season, also added six rebounds, five assists and six steals against the Hilltoppers.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Chrissy Givens was voted the Alexander Automotive Family Player of the Game against Western Kentucky by members of the working media. Givens finished with a game-high 23 points, including the deciding three-pointer.

TIDBITS: Head Coach Rick Insell won his first Sun Belt Conference game today with the victory over WKU ... Starr Orr came off the bench to record her second-best scoring outing of her career with 12 points ... The Blue Raiders have now won their opening conference game for the fourth time in six years as a member of the SBC ... The Blue Raiders shot just 40 percent from the field on two-point attempts and 43.8 percent from behind the arc.

INSELL RADIO SHOW: Middle Tennessee Head Women's Basketball Coach Rick Insell's radio show will begin Monday January 9 at Corky's Barbecue in Murfreesboro. The show will be broadcast on WMTS 88.3 beginning at 6 p.m. It will be co-hosted by women's basketball play-by-play announcer David Reed.

QUOTES:

MIDDLE TENNESSEE HEAD COACH RICK INSELL:

About Chrissy Givens making key shots to help Middle Tennessee win: "Big time players make shots like that. Chrissy stepped up and helped us gain control of this game."

Analysis of the first half of the season: "We had some ups and some downs. We're a young team, hopefully we will have some more ups than downs."

About not calling a time-out during a crucial portion of the second half: "We're a good offensive team. You got to let those kids play in a situation like that. The better we play though our mistakes, the better team will be in the long run."

Thoughts on allowing Western Kentucky to make big shots in the second half: "We didn't use our post against their zone enough. They are a good and they know how they can make those crucial points."

About limiting the turnover margin: "We had 16 turnovers, and that's not a lot. We have been going 26 or 27 turnovers, if we could narrow our margin to 15, we will be able to win more games."

About winning his first Sunbelt Conference game: "I'm not going to lie; I was very excited to win my first conference game."

Guard Crissy Givens:

About shooting a crucial 3 pointer with 50 seconds remaining: "They backed off of me and I am tired of them [Western Kentucky's defense) backing off of me, so in my mind I knew I was going to make that shot."

On shooting a career high of 3 pointers: If I knock down the shots from the outside, I will be able to do what I do best, get shots from inside the paint.

Forward Tia Stovall:

About out rebounding Western Kentucky: "We've been working day in and day out on rebounding. Our weakness was rebounding and boxing out to get defensive rebounds. We were able to out rebound Western Kentucky, which allowed us to win."

About winning the Sunbelt Conference opener: "Winning our first conference game is very important. Winning a game against the team picked to win the Sunbelt will help us set a precedent that we will follow for the rest of the season."

Forward Krystle Horton:

About scoring her 1,000 career point: "It was very special to me. Of course, I was more concerned about the game, but getting my 1,000th career point is a great accomplishment."

WESTERN KENTUCKY HEAD COACH MARY TAYLOR COWLES:

On preparation for Sunday's game against Middle Tennessee: "We dug ourselves a hole because of a lack of motivation. Our competition is too good to dig a big hole, and right now it is obvious that Middle Tennessee is a better team than Western Kentucky.'

Thoughts on tonight's loss to Middle Tennessee: "We've got to set back and figure out how to get our selves motivated and make ourselves a better team."

About allowing Middle Tennessee to have a 15 point lead in the first half: "We got to have players to step up and make baskets when we get in a hole early. As a coach, it's my job to figure out how we can get one of our players to step up and get us back into the game."

On Crystal Kelly committing her third foul in the first half: "The third foul on Crystal [Kelly] hurt us and it's my fault because I kept her in after the second foul. You must credit Middle Tennessee's defense on shaking up our offense and not allowing us to make the easy baskets."

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