Raiders pound inside to 69-62 win over Wright State
MT faces Mississippi State for Gulf Coast Showcase ChampionshipNovember 30, 2013 · @MTAthletics
ESTERO, Fla. - Middle Tennessee dominated inside with Ebony Rowe scoring 28 points in the Blue Raiders' 69-62 victory over Wright State on Saturday in the Gulf Coast Showcase semifinals.
The Blue Raiders (3-3) never let the Raiders of Wright State (6-2) take the lead. MT stretched its advantage to 14 in the first half. Wright State used a second half 11-point run, holding the Blue Raiders scoreless for six-plus minutes. Layups from Olivia Jones and Laken Leonard snapped the lull. MT then used 10 consecutive points from Rowe to take a commanding lead and victory. Middle Tennessee faces Mississippi State for the Gulf Coast Showcase crown on Sunday at 4 p.m. CT.
Statistically, MT shot 46 percent (26-of-56) from the field while holding WSU to 31 percent shooting (22-of-72). MT out-manned the Raiders on the boards, 47-to-39. Domination of the paint proved to be critical as the Blue Raiders scored 48 points to WSU's 22 inside.
Rowe inked her 57th double-double with 28 points and 11 rebounds. The senior forward moved to seventh all-time in career scoring with 1,852, passing Jennifer McFall ('85).
Nearly reaching a double-double, Leonard finished the day with 13 points and a career-best nine rebounds. The senior dished out a career-high five assists, while picking up two steals and a block.
Shanice Cason boasted 14 points with three steals in 35 minutes. Also chipping in, Olivia Jones tallied nine points and four rebounds. Center KeKe Stewart closed out her game with five points and six boards.
Middle Tennessee jumped out to a five point lead thanks to a Jones trey and March basket in the paint. The Blue Raiders capitalized on a Wright State technical foul to extend the lead early to 9-2.
WSU fought back with seven consecutive points to make it a 9-8 contest. The teams traded baskets along the way until MT used an 8-0 stretch to extend its advantage to 10. Middle Tennessee led by as many as 14 with less than a minute to go. MT took a 39-29 lead into the locker room.
Offensively, MT shot 48 percent from the field (14-of-29) with 26 points coming from the paint. The Blue Raiders led in the rebound column, 23-17. Rowe proved deadly underneath with all six of her field goals in the paint. The senior led MT with 16 points and 6 rebounds at the break. Horizon League Preseason Player of the Year Kim Demmings had 12 points for Wright State.
In the second half, Wright State came firing back with an 11-point run to tie the game at 50. Middle Tennessee used baskets from Leonard and Jones to remain ahead of WSU. From there, Rowe buckled down and scored 10 consecutive points to put the game out of reach.
The Blue Raiders advance to play Mississippi State for the inaugural Gulf Coast Showcase Championship on Sunday. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. CT. The game will air on the Blue Raider Network and America ONE Sports.
Ebony Rowe moved into seventh all-time scoring with her 28 points, passing Jennifer McFall's 1,834 career points ... Her 11 field goals moved her to six all-time with 729, passing Patrice Holmes ... Rowe moved to second all-time with 547 defensive rebounds, passing Patrice Holmes ... Rowe moved to sixth all-time with 95 career rebounds ... Rowe's six free throws moved her to fourth all-time ... She is tied for eighth with 103 career starts ... The 48 points inside was the most for MT this season ... The Blue Raiders are now 1-1 against teams in the Horizon league ... Laken Leonard's nine rebounds bested her previous high of eight against Louisville on March 24, 2013 ... Leonard also matched a career-high five assists, tying her effort against WKU on Feb. 8, 2012.
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