Raiders take on upset-minded FIU in C-USA Semifinal

Contest with Panthers to air on CBS Sports Network

March 14, 2014 · @MTAthletics

The top overall seed and 20th ranked Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (27-4) take on No. 13 seed FIU (15-17) in the Conference USA Championship semifinal on Friday, March 14. Tipoff is set for 10 a.m. CT / 9 a.m. MT. Friday's contest will air nationally on the CBS Sports Network.


Matchup: No. 20/22 Middle Tennessee vs. FIU (C-USA Championship Semifinal)
Date: Friday, March 14, 2014
Time: 10 a.m. CT / 9 a.m. MT
Location: El Paso, Texas
Arena: Don Haskins Center (12,222)


Overall: MT leads series, 20-9
Under Rick Insell: MT leads, 15-4
In Conference Tournament: MT leads, 2-0

Women's Basketball vs. FIU

Radio: WMOT (89.5 FM) / WGNS (1450 AM/100.5 FM)
Play-by-Play: Dick Palmer
Color: Kyle Turnham
Television: CBS Sports Network
Play-by-Play: Ed Cohen
Color: Julianne Viani
Live Audio - Live Stats

Quick Hitters

• No. 20/22 Middle Tennessee (27-4) extended its win streak to nine games with a 69-59 win over UAB in the Conference USA Championship Quarterfinal on Thursday.
• The Blue Raiders rallied behind a 29 point and 15 rebound effort from C-USA Player of the Year Ebony Rowe. KeKe Stewart also notched her sixth straight double-figure game with 15 points.
• The Raiders meet old Sun Belt foe FIU (15-17) for the third straight year in a conference tournament setting. MT was victorious in the last two meetings, including a 68-59 win over the Panthers in the SBC Semifinals on March 10, 2013.
• The Blue Raiders own a 52-19 mark in their respective conference tournaments. MT has appeared in the conference title game in 10 out of the last 11 seasons. Rick Insell's squads are 20-3 all-time in conference tournament games, winning five tournament championships.
• A win on Thursday would tie the 2008-09 squad for the second most wins in program history. The school record 30 victories was set during the 2006-07 campaign.

Conference Tournament Tidbits

• MT owns a 52-19 all-time mark in conference tournaments that spans the team's tenure in the OVC, Sun Belt and now C-USA.
• The Raiders own a 20-3 all-time mark under Coach Rick Insell, which includes five conference tournament titles.
• Middle Tennessee has appeared in the conference tournament championship game in 10 out of the last 11 years. The Raiders are 7-3 in championship games during that stretch.
• MT is making its 30th semifinal appearance in 39 seasons since the program's inception. The Raiders own a 20-9 overall record in semifinal games. MT has made the semifinals in eight out of nine seasons under Insell.

Tournament Records

• With 15 rebounds versus UAB, Ebony Rowe set the school record with 99 career boards in tournament games.
• Rowe has amassed 148 points in nine tournament games. The career record for points is Chrissy Given's 237 set from 2004 to 2007.

The FIU Series

• Middle Tennessee and old Sun Belt foe FIU meet for the 30th time on Friday. The Raiders hold a distinct 20-9 edge in the all-time series. Rick Insell is 15-4 all-time against the Panthers.
• The two teams have met twice in the Sun Belt Tournament during the last two years. MT won the 2012 quarterfinal game 63-53 and prevailed 68-59 against the Panthers in 2013.
• MT has won seven out of the last eight meetings with its only loss coming on Dec. 21, 2012 in Murfreesboro, 58-51.

Scouting the Panthers

• No. 13 seed FIU (15-17, 6-10 C-USA) has reeled off three straight wins with two of those coming against (5) ECU and (4) Tulane in the Conference USA Championship. The Panthers are led by All-America candidate Jerica Coley, who averages 29.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Tynia McKenize is the top FIU rebounder with 7.5 boards pulled in each contest. Coach Cindy Russo's Panthers are averaging 69.5 points, while shooting 40.3 percent (800-of-1986) from the field.

What's Stewing?

• Senior KeKe Stewart has stepped up her game with six consecutive contests in double-figures and averaging 14.5 points per game. The Oak Ridge native has a personal-best 13 double-figure games this season. She is second on the team with 10.2 points per contest.

Rowe Named Player of the Year

• Senior Ebony Rowe was named the Conference USA Player of the Year on Monday. She also earned C-USA All-Conference First Team and All-Defensive team accolades on Sunday.
• The honor is the first for the senior and the fifth time the award has been given under Rick Insell. Chrissy Givens and Alysha Clark earned the award twice in their career. Rowe averaged 21.3 points and 11.6 rebounds for the Raiders in the regular season.
• On Thursday, Rowe was tabbed the College Sports Madness High-Major Player of the Year and a first team High-Major All-America selection.
• Shawn Jones also won C-USA Men's Basketball Player of the Year, marking the first time MT had both POYs in the same year.

Jones Tabbed C-USA Top Freshman

Olivia Jones was tabbed the Conference USA Freshman of the Year and a spot on the C-USA All-Freshman team. She led Middle Tennessee with 67 steals in the regular season and was second on the team with a 6.8 rebounding average.
• She has notched eight 11-plus rebound performances and two double-doubles this season. The C-USA Freshman of the Year designation is the first for a Blue Raider since Ebony Rowe was named the Sun Belt's top freshman in 2011 and only the sixth time in school history that a player has garnered this award.

Reaching the Win Plateau

• With a win over UAB on Thursday, Middle Tennessee moved to third all-time with 27 all-time victories.
• A win over FIU on Friday, would match the second-most victories at MT. The 2008-09 squad put together a 28-6 record.
The school record of 30 was set under Rick Insell in 2006-07.
• The Raiders have won 25 or more games six times under Insell's nine-year tutelage.

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.