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Givens Scores 32 in Blue Raiders Comeback Win Over FIU

February 2, 2006 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Chrissy Givens tied her career-high with 32 points to help lead the Middle Tennessee women's basketball team to a 70-65 victory over Florida International (12-8, 5-2 SBC) on Thursday in the Murphy Center.

The Blue Raiders improved to 14-7 overall and equalled its best start in the Sun Belt Conference with a 7-1 mark. Middle Tennessee also ran its current winning streak to five consecutive games and has now won 14 straight Sun Belt Conference games at home.

Givens was the catalyst for the Blue Raiders down the stretch as she accounted for 12 of the last 17 points for the Blue Raiders. She also gave Middle Tennessee the lead by hitting a jumper with 40 seconds remaining in the game to put the Blue Raiders up by one, 66-65.

In the final 20 seconds of the game, Middle Tennessee was perfect at the free throw line hitting 4-of-4 to quell any comeback attempt by Florida International. Sophomore guard Starr Orr gave the Blue Raiders some breathing room with 20 seconds remaining when she drained two free throws to put Middle Tennessee up by three, 68-65.

A steal by Givens with 12 seconds remaining gave Middle Tennessee the ball back and she was quickly fouled. Givens connected on both of her free throws to put the game out of reach.

Middle Tennessee led the entire first half and built a 15-point lead at one point, but the Panthers kept chipping away. In the second half, Florida International went on an 11-to-4 run to take its first lead of the game, 47-46, with 16:28 remaining.

Florida International built its largest lead of the second half, seven points, when the Panthers' Lasma Jekabsone hit one of two free throws with 10:42 remaining. Middle Tennessee went on an 8-to-2 run to pull within one, 57-56, when Givens hit a jumper with 7:53 left. Middle Tennessee pulled within one of the Panthers four times before taking the lead for good in the waning seconds of the game.

Middle Tennessee forced 23 Florida International turnovers, which was a big key to the game, as it led to 24 Blue Raider points. The Blue Raiders also had 12 steals in the game to the Panther's seven.

Krystle Horton notched her second double-double of the season with 16 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. She also had four assists and the only block in the game for the Blue Raiders. To go along with her 32 points, Givens also had four assists, four rebounds and four steals.

Middle Tennessee goes on the road on Wednesday to Denton, Texas to face North Texas. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

NOTES:

TIDBITS: Middle Tennessee won its fifth consecutive game and 14th straight Sun Belt home game ... The Blue Raiders' 7-1 record ties its best start in the Sun Belt as the squad also started 7-1 in the 2004-05 season ... With 16 points, Krystle Horton now has 1,096 career points and moves into 14th place in all-time scoring list ... Chrissy Givens has now scored 30 or more points three times this season and has notched 20 or more points 13 times ... Johnna Abney has now hit at least one three-pointer in 14 consecutive games ... The Blue Raiders are now 6-5 all-time against Florida International ... With the win against FIU, Middle Tennessee is 5-0 in games played on a Thursday.

QUOTES:

Head Coach Rick Insell:

Thoughts on winning Thursday's contest against Florida International: "We had some great looks, we just missed some shots. You can't get mad at the players because we were executing our plays. We did what we had to do to win. Chrissy [Givens] made some big shots for us. We wore out Faeza Bouderra, which is a key to their team's success. They have a great team, they shoot the ball well and they play well together. It's going to be a heck of a game when we go down to Florida International."

Thoughts about Middle Tennessee trailing by five in the latter stages of the second half: "These young ladies know how to win. I didn't need to call a timeout when we were down by five. You've got to live through those tough moments and we were able to get through it."

On the performance of Krystle Horton: "Krystle Horton had a double-double, that's what winners are supposed to do. I've got a group of winners here. You just don't know how pleased I am to coach this wonderful group of players at Middle Tennessee."

On performing well during the last few minutes of the second half: "Our games are a lot easier than our practices. Our practices make us mentally tough, and we aren't going to quit. In one of our timeouts, we talked about not quitting until the last drop of blood. We got the rebounds we needed to get, made the shots we needed to take, and hit the free throws down the stretch, and that's what you need to do to win championships."

Junior Guard Chrissy Givens:

On Florida International's physical presence to block shots: "They weren't making it [shots] more difficult. I play much harder in our practices. We pride ourselves in our offense because we have so many options that open up our game."

Thoughts about Middle Tennessee's scoring drought in the second half: "I think in everybody's mind when we go on a drought like this we know we need to switch our minds to defense. We forced them [Florida International] to commit some big turnovers, which in turn allowed us to get some more opportunities offensively."

About making a key jump shot in the last few seconds of Thursday's game: "Coach [Insell] always says that's the most important shot we ever shoot. Coach makes us practice this shot every day. I think practice really helps us and it doesn't make me nervous, because it's just like I practiced it."

Junior Forward Krystle Horton

About Florida International blocking shots during the game: "We know they were going to be blocking and going after every shot. We had to force them to make fouls or we would need to make some big threes."

About the competitive play in the Sunbelt Conference: "The competition in our conference is good. Night in and night out we are going to have to play our "A" game and make sure we don't have any letdowns. "

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