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Raiders survive three-point barrage to down FAU

Rowe and Jones post double-doubles in victory

February 15, 2014 · @MTAthletics

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Middle Tennessee withstood a barrage of 12 Florida Atlantic three-pointers, as the Blue Raiders held on to an 83-77 victory over the Owls on Saturday afternoon.

Middle Tennessee (21-4, 10-1 Conference USA) led by as many as 14 before the Owls (13-11, 3-8 C-USA) chipped away and took the lead on several occasions in the second half. For the second game in a row, there were 14 lead changes between the two teams.

KeKe Stewart's trey with 2:54 remaining put the Raiders up for good, 77-74. FAU cut the lead to one immediately afterwards, but the Raiders used six points from All-America candidate Ebony Rowe down the stretch to seal the win.

Rowe finished with a season-high 32 points, while grabbing 13 rebounds. The double-double was the 21st for the Lexington, Ky., native this season. Olivia Jones added a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. The freshman had a team-best three assists in the win. Stewart knocked down two treys and finished the day with eight points. Whitleyvile's Laken Leonard added eight points and six boards in her 28 minutes of action.

FAU knocked down 12 triples out of their 26 made field goals. The Owls shot 39.4 percent from the field, but were heavily out-rebounded 53-to-35 by MT. For the game, the Raiders knocked down 47.5 percent from the field (28-of-59).

A pair of consecutive triples from Morgan Robinson and Kimberly Smith helped Florida Atlantic to take a 13-8 lead in the first four minutes. Middle Tennessee scrapped back with a 10-2 run. Treys by Stewart and Leonard gave the Raiders an 18-15 edge at the 11:51 mark.

The Raiders stretched the lead to 14 until FAU made a furious comeback. The Owls used seven first half triples to cut the deficit to tie lead the game late in the first half. MT took a 41-39 lead at the half thanks to a last-second layup from Jones.

MT shot 47 percent (14—of-30) in the first half, while FAU was 12-of-34 from the field for 35.3 percent. The rebound column went in the Raiders' favor, 26-17. Rowe led MT with 14 points and 7 rebounds.

Momentum swung to FAU early in the second stanza, as the Owls took a four-point lead, 47-43, with 17:34 left in the contest. There were seven more lead changes before a free throw by Rowe tied the game at 74.

Stewart hit a trey on the next possession and Rowe followed up with three consecutive free throw. Kat Wright's made free throw with 47 seconds left cut MT's lead to three. A finger roll by Rowe extended the lead to five, as she hit one more free throw to seal an 83-77 win. Florida Atlantic had three double-digit scorers with Smith posting a team-best 20.

Saturday's victory gave Middle Tennessee its 10th road win of the season. The Blue Raiders now have double-digit road victories in six of nine seasons under Rick Insell. MT is now 8-0 in the Sunshine State this season. 

The Blue Raiders return to the friendly confines of the Murphy Center for a 7 p.m. matchup against Marshall on Wednesday.

NOTES

Ebony Rowe inked her 74th double-double this season and the 21st of the season ... Rowe matches a personal-best 21 double-doubles in a season, that she set last year ... Olivia Jones' double-double is the second for her this season ... Her first was against UTEP on Jan. 15 ... Middle Tennessee is now 15-1 all-time against Florida Atlantic ... The Raiders are now 21-0 when leading under five minutes this season ... MT last gave up 10+ triples at Kentucky on Dec. 29, 2010 ... Middle Tennessee is 8-0 in the state of Florida.

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