New year brings start of conference season for Blue Raiders

MT 8-2 all-time in SBC openers

January 1, 2011 · Athletic Communications

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Middle Tennessee women’s basketball rings in the New Year with a trip to Mobile, Ala., for a 2 p.m. Sunday tip at South Alabama in the Sun Belt Conference opener. The Blue Raiders are beginning their 11th season of Sun Belt action.

Middle Tennessee completed the non-conference portion of its slate at 9-4 following an 82-71 setback at No. 11/11 Kentucky Wednesday. The Blue Raiders held a 10-point lead with seven minutes remaining but stumbled down the stretch in the loss.

Freshman Ebony Rowe, the squad’s leader with 17.0 ppg and 9.4 rpg, registered her sixth double-double of the season, and third consecutive, with game-high 25 points and 11 rebounds in her homecoming back in Lexington, Ky., against the Wildcats.

She leads a balanced offensive attack featuring six players with at least 7.5 ppg. Senior Anne Marie Lanning is the only other MT player, however, to average double figures with 10.2 ppg. She begins the final stretch of her collegiate career needing just 102 points to become the 25th member of the exclusive 1,000-point club in school history.

South Alabama owns an 8-5 overall and 0-1 league ledger entering the contest. The Lady Jags began Sun Belt action with a 68-53 defeat at Arkansas State Thursday night. Christian Shelter paced the team with 14 points as the loss snapped a five-game winning streak for coach Rick Pietri’s club.

Shelter tops USA with 12.5 ppg, one more than Sarda Peterson’s 11.5 ppg. Taylor Ammons sets the tone on the boards with 8.8 per game.

The Blue Raiders lead the all-time series 15-4, including 13 straight dating back to a January 2003 loss. Head coach Rick Insell is 11-0 in his career against the Lady Jags, including a pair of games last season in which MT reached the century mark.

Middle Tennessee is 8-2 in Sun Belt openers, featuring six consecutive victories. The two teams have met once previously in a Blue Raider SBC opener with MT earning a 93-58 triumph in Mobile Dec. 14, 2006, on its way to an 18-0 league record.

Play-by-play voice Dick Palmer will call the action on the Blue Raider Network, including WGNS (100.5 FM, 101.9 FM, 1450 AM), WMOT (89.5 FM) and WBRY (96.7 FM, 1540 AM).

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