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Balanced effort pushes Raiders past Marshall

MT maintains first place with four games remaining

February 19, 2014 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee women's basketball team held Marshall to 12 made field goals and 21.8 percent shooting in a dominating, 75-36, victory over the Thundering Herd on Wednesday night at Murphy Center.

Three players for Middle Tennessee (22-4, 11-1 C-USA) were in double-figures in the victory, led by 19 from senior Keke Stewart. Senior Ebony Rowe had 14 points and nine rebounds, while junior Shanice Cason had 10. The Blue Raiders kept their first place standing in Conference USA with just four games remaining.

In the second half, Rowe broke the program record for most made field goals with her 882nd career basket from the floor, breaking Kim Webb's all-time mark. The Lexington, Ky., native now holds 10 school records at Middle Tennessee.

Marshall (9-16, 2-10 C-USA) trailed by just eight at 24-16 with 8:41 to play in the opening stanza. From there, the Raiders rattled off a 13-0 run that changed the complexion of the game. Seniors Janay Brinkley, Laken Leonard and Lauren March combined for 10 points during that stretch. TiAnna Porter matched a career-high six points and grabbed a personal-best seven rebounds in the victory. 

The Raiders took a 43-20 lead into the locker room behind 11 first-half points from Stewart. MT held Marshall to 27.6 percent shooting in the opening 20 minutes, while outrebounding the Herd 24-17.

MT would lead by as much as 40 in the second half, with 10 different Raiders finding the scoring column in the contest. For the game, Middle Tennessee held Marshall to 21.8 percent shooting, a season-best field goal defense for the Blue Raiders. The Herd shot 15.4 percent in the second half, the best mark in a half for MT's defense this year. Middle Tennessee would close the game on a 15-3 run.

The Raiders pulled down 51 rebounds, making it the second consecutive game MT grabbed 50 or more boards after tallying 53 on Saturday at Florida Atlantic.

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The Blue Raiders return to action on Saturday when they host Charlotte at 3 p.m. at Murphy Center. The game will be broadcast throughout the nation on various Fox Sports Network affiliates.

NOTES

The Blue Raiders' 43 first half points on Wednesday marks the first time this season that MT has reached 40-plus points in consecutive games ... Ebony Rowe earned her 10th school record with eight field goals on Wednesday with 885 career makes. The senior surpassed Kim Webb's mark of 881 career field goals ... Middle Tennessee is now 74-3 against conference competition inside the Murphy Center ... Middle Tennessee has reached 50-plus rebounds in two straight games ... The Raiders are now 1-0 against Marshall.

QUOTES

Head Coach Rick Insell

On tonight's game...

We just came out and were able to pick up all their changes on defense. We had a good scout from our coaches that had us well prepared. We came out with a lot of intensity at home. I think they knew they only had three home games left and wanted to get the most out of it. I'm really proud that we were able to get some of our younger players in the game and we saw a lot of positives from them tonight as well. So I'm very happy with our play tonight.

On the defense tonight...

We wanted to get back and take a little more pride in what we were doing defensively. We had a lot of people girls who guarded well on the perimeter tonight. Ebony did a great job with that, so did KeKe and Shanice. A lot of our girls did well on defense tonight. Everybody we have did something well on defense tonight so I'm very proud of them for that.

On Shanice Cason...

She did well tonight. That's why we started her tonight. She's been playing better and she's had a couple really good practices the last couple days. We didn't start her back in the second half because she had three fouls and I wanted us to come out with a lot of pressure. I was afraid she'd pick up her fourth foul. But Shanice did a great job tonight.

On winning at home...

We love our fans. I told Chris Massaro today this is the best basketball facility I've played in across the country and it's going to get better. There are a lot of improvements going on right now and you won't even recognize this place when it's done.

Senior Center KeKe Stewart

On today's game...

It was a lot of fun to play in game like this tonight. I like to watch my teammates play as well and we got to do that a lot tonight too. But it's a lot of fun to play in games like this.

On regaining some of your shooting touch tonight...

It felt really good. I was feeling good during warm ups, making a lot of shots so when I got an open shot I took it. It feels really good to make some shots like that.

Junior Guard Shanice Cason

On today's game...

My teammates did a good job of playing together and that's where it started. And when we're having fun on the court everything else just falls into place and you see a performance like the one we had tonight.

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