Middle Tennessee zips past Freed-Hardeman, 85-53

Trio of Raiders reach double figures

November 1, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - A strong second half push propelled the Middle Tennessee women's basketball team to an 85-53 victory over Freed-Hardemen in the Raiders' final exhibition game on Friday evening.

The Raiders took a 37-26 lead into the locker room, but outscored the Lady Lions 48-to-27 in the final period to take a commanding victory. Murfreesboro native Shanice Cason led the Blue Raiders with a team-high 17 points, while Ebony Rowe followed with 14 and Janiece Johnson added 10 on the evening.

"You can see in the second half where we separated," noted head coach Rick Insell. "Freed-Hardeman got 27 points (in the second half), but 10 or 12 of those late on free throws. "We played with a little more focus in the second half then we did the first half."

Early in the game, the Raiders used back-to-back three-point buckets in a 14-second stretch in the first half to take a lead which it never relinquished against Freed-Hardeman Friday night, winning 85-53, inside the Murphy Center.

MT was led by Cason, who made momentum-swinging baskets to help MT take the lead for good in the first half. The guard totaled 11 points in the first half on 3-of-5 shooting, also going 4-for-4 from the charity stripe. She put in the final seven points for Middle Tennessee, giving the Blue Raiders the 37-26 lead at the break.

Opening the second half, Rowe found her usual rhythm, doubling her first half total of six points in the first four-plus minutes. Rowe along with the aid of TiAnna Porter helped the Blue Raiders extend its' lead to 22 points with 12:21 left in the second half. Rowe finished with 14 points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes.

The Blue Raiders pushed the lead to 37 with 6:52 left. Cason tallied six points, but was instrumental in sparking turnovers, making five steals in the second half alone.

Johnson continued her best performance of the exhibition slate, tallying four points in the second half and 10 points for the game in 14 minutes of action.

Using his bench players effectively, Coach Insell got valuable playing time to multiple reserves in the second half. China Dow made the largest impact off the bench, scoring seven points in the second half on 2-of-4 shooting. KeKe Stewart also added seven points in six minutes, finishing with nine points for the game.

Overall, Cason lead MT with a game-high 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting, making her impact felt on the defensive end with seven steals. Rowe finished with 14 points, while shooting 75 percent (6-of-8) from the floor.

Middle Tennessee went 33-of-66 for the game, tallying a solid 50 percent for the game. The Raiders held the rebound advantage, totaling 48 to Freed-Hardeman's 29.

The season opens next Friday, Nov. 8 when the Blue Raiders welcome No. 4 Tennessee to the Murphy Center. Tickets for the 7 p.m. contest are still available through the Blue Raider Ticket Office or online at GoBlueRaiders.com.

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