MT takes on Oregon State in NCAA First Round

Blue Raiders head west to Seattle for Sunday's 7 p.m. CT contest

March 17, 2014 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - No. 20/22 Middle Tennessee Women's Basketball heads west to Seattle, Wash., this week for the program's 17th NCAA Tournament appearance, as the team learned their destination in front of a packed Student Union Ballroom on Monday. 

The 8th seeded Blue Raiders take on No. seed 9 Oregon State in the Stanford Regional. Both first and second round games will take place inside Alaska Airlines Arena on the campus of the University of Washington. Tipoff is set for Sunday, March 23 at 7 p.m. Central.

The Blue Raiders (29-4) put together the second most wins in program history. MT has won 28 out of its last 29 games, including ranking in the Top 25 poll for six weeks this season. The 20/22 Raiders won the Conference USA regular season and tournament title in the school's first year in the league.

On Saturday, Middle Tennessee secured the school's 14th conference tournament title and the fifth under Head Coach Rick Insell. 

Sunday's game will be the school's 17th NCAA Tournament appearance and a school-record sixth straight NCAA berth. MT had previously made the tournament five straight on two different occasions. The No. 8 seed is the third time the Raiders have recorded a single digit seed since the tournament field expanded. MT was a No. 8 seed in 2009 versus No. 9 Michigan State in East Lansing. The Raiders were a No. 5 seed in Palo Alto against No. 12 Gonzaga.

Conference USA Player of the Year Ebony Rowe leads the Raiders with 21.7 points and 11.7 rebounds per game. Rowe, the team's all-time leading scorer and rebounder, ranks fifth nationally with 25 double-doubles. Joining Rowe in double figures is senior center KeKe Stewart with 10.2 points per game. Olivia Jones, C-USA Freshman of the Year, ranks third on the team with 8.5 points and second with 7.3 rebounds.

OSU compiled one of the best seasons in program history in 2013-14. The Beavers are 23-10 overall, just their third 23-win campaign and first since 1982-83. OSU's 13-5 conference record was a new program best and it tied for second in the final conference standings, matching OSU's best finish as a conference member (1996). Last weekend in Seattle, Oregon State made it to the Pac-12 Tournament Championship for the first time.

Prior to the MT/Oregon State matchup, No. 1 South Carolina will play No. 16 CSU Northridge in a 5:30 p.m. CT contest. MT's game will air on ESPN2 with ESPN's whip-around coverage. The entire broadcast will be on in its entirety in the Nashville market and through ESPN3. Full TV details will be released later this week. The second round matchup is set for Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT.

Tickets are $18 dollars for each game and $32 for all session. Fans may purchase tickets online at GoBlueRaiders.com now (click here) or through the Blue Raider Ticket Office beginning at 8 a.m. on Tuesday. In the event the Raiders advance to the second round, fans will have the option to have their credit card automatically charged for that game. All tickets will be available for pick up at will call only on the day of the game. To purchase, call the ticket office at 615-898-5261.


Head Coach Rick Insell

On the selection:

I don't like going to Seattle, but I don't have a problem with the draw we have. I thought we had done enough to be a five or six seed. You just take it and go because there are a lot of teams that are left at home. I like where we are out right now, but I don't like playing that far away from our fans.

On making the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight season:
This is a special day every year because when Dr. Sidney A. McPhee and Chris Massaro hired me. I came on board to make this an elite program in the country. Part of that next level is being able to sit here on selection night and seeing your name come across the board. Our program has been to the NCAA Tournament 17 times. There aren't many programs that can say that.

Senior Forward Ebony Rowe

On the selection: 

We're just really excited to see our name up there. I think a lot of our fans are going to make that trip. We will focus on Oregon State this week and get ready for that game.

On visiting Seattle where coach Alysha Clark plays professionally:

It's really cool. She was so excited. She knows a lot of people up there. A lot of her fans have become our fans. It is cool to go out there.

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