No. 21/25 Blue Raiders fall short at Southern Miss

Ebony Rowe collects 18th double-double of the season

February 5, 2014 · @MTAthletics

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - A 14-2 run in the second half by Southern Miss was too much to overcome, as No. 21/25 Middle Tennessee fell to the Golden Eagles, 68-56, at Reed Green Coliseum on Wednesday.

Middle Tennessee (18-4, 7-1 Conference USA) held a two-point halftime advantage, but USM (16-5, 5-3 C-USA) notched 41 points in the second half to give the Blue Raiders their first loss since Nov. 24.

Senior Ebony Rowe had her 18th double-double this season with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Rowe dished out four assists and recorded a block in 40 minutes. Laken Leonard also reached double figures with 11 points. Freshman Olivia Jones pulled in 10 rebounds, while Shanice Cason dished out a season-high six assists.

Southern Miss and MT traded blows the entire first half. USM used a seven point run to stretch their lead to five, 13-8, with 11:06 remaining. From there, the Blue Raiders used a trey from Stewart and four combined points from Rowe and Leonard to take a 20-17 edge.

See-saw action continued when Martin hit a trey at the 3:05 mark to give the Eagles a 27-26 lead. However, the Raiders held USM scoreless in the final stretch to take a 29-27 halftime advantage. 

Rowe led MT with 10 points, while Jones had a half-best six boards. The Raiders were 10-of-26 from the field, shooting 38.5 percent. MT held Southern Miss to 37 percent shooting (13-of-35). Rebounds were even at 21. USM won the turnover margin by forcing six MT turnovers compared to four committed.

In the second half, Southern Miss opened up to a 14-2 lead taking a 43-36 edge with 11:32 remaining. Shooting woes hurt the Raiders as MT was just 23.5 percent from the field with eight minutes remaining. Southern Miss built their lead to 50-39 thanks to a Markia Nix basket coupled with the and-one.

Rowe's free throw with 44 seconds left chipped away the game to nine points. However, USM made free throws down the stretch to snap the Blue Raiders' 17-game winning streak. Four Golden Eagles reached double figures with Jerontay Clemons leading the way with 16 points.

MT's win streak was the fourth longest in program history and the second longest in C-USA play. MT finished the game shooting 35.1 percent (20-of-57) from the field, while USM connected on 40 percent (27-of-67). The Raiders were out rebounded 49-40. USM won the turnover battle scoring 15 points off 14 Raider miscues, while MT scored just 11 turnover points.

No. 21/25 Middle Tennessee returns home to host Rice on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. The contest is MT's annual Play 4Kay Power of Pink game. Fans are encouraged to wear pink. Those who do can purchase a $5 ticket.


Shanice Cason made a season-high six assists ... Ebony Rowe's 20 points and 13 rebounds was her 18th double-double this season and 71st of her career ... MT was held to their lowest point total since scoring 59 against South Dakota State ... MT's 17 game win streak was snapped, ending a run that was fourth longest in program history and second longest in league history.

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