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Blue Raiders come out on fire to put away Trojans

Elie posts third career double-double

February 17, 2011 · Athletic Communications

TROY, Ala. - A blistering first half in which Middle Tennessee shot a season-high 20-of-29 (69.0 percent) from the floor, including 5-of-7 from long range, lifted the Blue Raiders to an 80-61 victory at Troy over the homestanding Trojans Thursday night inside Sartain Hall in Troy, Ala.

Sophomore Icelyn Elie registered her third career double-double with game-high totals of 23 points and 13 rebounds. Joining her in double figures were senior Anne Marie Lanning with 16 points and freshman Ebony Rowe with 13.

Donette McNair paced four Troy players in double digits with 14, as Tenia Manuel and Jamesha Blake each contributed a dozen. DeAngela Sword added 11. Manuel was the team's top rebounder with eight caroms.

Middle Tennessee jumped out to a 5-0 start within the game's opening minute but then went cold for nearly the next two as the Trojans closed the gap to one on made buckets from Sword and McNair. Elie then went to work, scoring the first of her seven first-half field goals to start a 7-0 run during the next two minutes, capped by a 3-pointer from freshman Jordyn Luffman at 15:40, to give the Blue Raiders a 12-4 edge.

Elie added another couple baskets as Middle Tennessee (22-5, 13-1 Sun Belt) maintained a seven-point cushion, 19-12, following Lanning's second triple of the period at 11:14. After McNair sliced it to five on the next Troy (5-21, 2-11 Sun Belt) possession, Elie kick-started another Blue Raider surge as they embarked on a 15-4 run, featuring three consecutive made shots from freshman KeKe Stewart, and a trey by sophomore Kortni Jones. Stewart added another to extend the lead to 34-18 before Manuel made it a 15-point difference as the clock entered the final five minutes.

McNair scored twice within the next minute, cutting the gap to 36-23, but Lanning answered with pair of her own and then drained a 3-pointer with three seconds left before the halftime buzzer to send Middle Tennessee into the break ahead 19, 45-26.

Elie continued her solid play in the early moments of the second half, netting the first five Blue Raider points as the lead was stretched to 22, 50-28, following her coast-to-coast steal, layup and free throw on a foul at the 18:54 mark. Blake and McNair trimmed the MT edge to 19 within the next two minutes, but Jones ignited another 6-0 spurt, capped by a 3-pointer on the wing from junior Tina Stewart, to make it a 26-point difference, 60-34, with 15:07 left.

The Trojans then took advantage of a span of nearly four minutes with the Blue Raiders only scoring once by registering eight of their own, including half from Dominique Ross, to pull within 20, 62-42. Lanning drained a triple at 9:40 to help Middle Tennessee push the lead back to 27, 71-44, and a pair of Rowe layups during the next two minutes provided the Blue Raiders with their largest lead, a 28-point edge 75-47, with 7:56 to play.

However, Troy would not go away and would outscore MT 14-5 the remainder of the game to decide the final margin.

Middle Tennessee now heads to Little Rock, Ark., for a 1 p.m. Sunday tip against West Division leader UALR in a game that will be televised on the Sun Belt Network, Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS) locally, with Lyn Rollins handling play-by-play and Debbie Leonard as the color analyst.

Dick Palmer will also have all 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).

Tickets are also available for the Sun Belt Tournament, to be held March 6-8 in Hot Springs, Ark., for the third-straight season. Tournament booklets are $83 and can be purchased by calling the Middle Tennessee ticket office at 1-888-YES-MTSU or stopping by the ticket office at Gate 1A of Floyd Stadium.

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.