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Rowe and Jones golden against Miners

Middle Tennessee extends win streak to 13 games

January 15, 2014 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - A 15-0 run spanning both halves turned the tide for the Middle Tennessee women's basketball team, downing UTEP 69-58 for the Blue Raiders' 13th-straight victory on Wednesday night at Murphy Center.

Four Raiders were in double-figures in the victory, led by a 23-point performance from senior Ebony Rowe to go along with 11 rebounds. Rowe's double-double was her 14th of the season and 67th of her Blue Raider career. Freshman Olivia Jones added 17 points and 11 rebounds for her first career double-double. Guards Laken Leonard had 11 and Caroline Warden added a season-high 10.

UTEP (13-3, 2-1 C-USA) would open up the lead to 31-24 with 2:53 to play in the half on a Kayla Thornton three-pointer. The Blue Raiders (14-3, 3-0 C-USA) would answer before the intermission, going on a 7-0 run into halftime to send the teams to the locker room tied at 31. Jones and Leonard combined for all seven points in the half-ending run, with Leonard hitting a three and a jumper.

Warden had eight points in the first half to lead the Blue Raiders, who shot 33.3-percent from the floor, as opposed to a 55.6-percent rate for the Miners. UTEP outrebounded MT, 21-15, in the first 20 minutes.

MT kept the pressure on to open the second half, scoring the first eight points out of the break for a 39-31 lead, with four from Rowe and three from Leonard. UTEP would cut the deficit to six on two separate occasions, but it was the closest the Miners would come. In all, the Raiders kept UTEP off the scoreboard for a span of 5:26 - the final 2:53 of the first half and opening 2:33 of the second.

A stretch of six straight MT points from Jones over a two-minute stretch made it 51-43 Blue Raiders with 10:03 to play, after which Middle Tennessee would trail by no less than eight for the remainder of the contest. The 13-game win streak is currently the fourth longest in the nation.

Rowe scored 13 points in the second half, while Jones added 11. Each player had seven rebounds in the frame. MT outshot UTEP, 46.2-percent to 42.4, in the second half.

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Thornton led UTEP with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds. A total of 45 fouls were called in the game, with the teams combining for 49 free-throw attempts.

The Blue Raiders return to action on Saturday, Jan. 18 with a 4 p.m. showdown at UAB in Birmingham, Ala.

NOTES

The Blue Raiders' eight-point deficit with 11:39 to play in the first half was the largest during MT's 13-game winning streak ... The 31-31 halftime score was the first time during the Blue Raiders' winning streak that MT did not lead at halftime ... Middle Tennessee's 13-game win streak is currently fourth nationally ... Wednesday marked the first time two Blue Raiders had double-doubles in the same game since Ebony Rowe and Icelyn Elie achieved the feat vs. South Alabama on Feb. 20, 2013 ... Ebony Rowe now has eight consecutive double-doubles and has 14 this season. She has 67 double-doubles in her career ... Rowe is now 49 points away from tying Kim Webb for MT's all-time leading scorer.

QUOTES

Head Coach Rick Insell

Opening Statement:

Two good teams were out there playing. I knew coming in they had a very good basketball team. I watched a lot of film on them. They're well-coached, well-disciplined and shoot the ball extremely well. I'm really proud of our girls.

On the play of Caroline Warden:

Steady Eddie, always. The one thing that we know with Caroline is she's going to be very steady. She's very hardnosed. She comes from a championship program. A lot of people didn't think she could play Division I basketball, but somebody forgot to tell Caroline. She came in here and she's made her own way and she is a very, very, very valuable asset to our basketball program. I would hate to know where we're at without her.

Sophomore Guard Caroline Warden

On her play: 

Coming off the bench I just want to be an influence coming in. I want to give the best minutes I possibly can and just help the team. I want to get in there and do everything I can. So that's my motivation.

Senior Forward Ebony Rowe

On the win:

It was really physical tonight. We knew it was going to be. We knew they were a great team and they were going to play hard, play physical, and play aggressive. Before the game we all came together and said we aren't going to back down, we're going to play like the better team.

Freshman Guard Olivia Jones

On her play: 

I wanted to keep attacking the basket. We knew some of their players were in foul trouble and we had to rebound.

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