MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -
The Trojans battled back from an eight-point first half deficit to take a 37-35
lead, but 10 unanswered by the home team lifted Middle Tennessee (12-5, 7-1 Sun
Belt) over UALR (11-6, 4-5 SBC) 65-56 Wednesday (Jan. 16) at the Murphy Center.
UALR took a brief 37-35 lead with 12:38 left in the game thanks
to an 8-0 run, but Middle Tennessee used a 47-27 edge on the boards to push the
lead to double-digits. The Trojans received a lift off the bench by outscoring
the Blue Raiders 27-6, but MTSU countered with a 21-3 advantage in second
UALR shot 40 percent (22-55) from the field compared to 39.6
percent (21-53) for the home team.
Individually, freshman Shanity James came off the bench to lead UALR with 18 points, finishing 6-9 from
the field and 6-8 from the charity stripe. James also added a team-high eight
Middle Tennessee was led by Ebony Rowe's 35 points and 17
rebounds. Icelyn Elie had 14 while Kortni Jones contributed 10 points and eight
UALR fell behind 15-8 thanks to a Jones triple halfway
through the first half, but UALR would not go away as jumpers by James and
junior Taylor Ford cut the deficit
to three. Middle Tennessee came right back with a 7-2 run thanks to six from
Rowe. Sophomore Taylor Gault answered
with UALR's first three of the game from the left elbow.
An MTSU free throw and a layup around a jumper by sophomore Kiera Clark put Middle Tennessee up
25-19 with 2:14 left in the first half. Gault responded with a three the old
way to bring the Trojans within three. A Rowe lay-up and a jumper by UALR's
James closed out the scoring in the first half.
Rowe started the second stanza with a jumper, but Ford hit a
triple to bring UALR within 29-27, the smallest Trojan deficit since 4-2 in the
first half. With Middle Tennessee taking a 35-29 lead, UALR held the Blue
Raiders without a field goal for four minutes and even took a 37-35 lead.
Senior Janette Merriex started the
run with a mid-range jumper along the baseline. After a defensive stand, Ford
dumped the ball down low to freshman Carolee Dillard who found James for the lay-up. The UALR defense forced the second
shot clock violation by MTSU and a pair of free throws from James tied the contest.
After forcing another MTSU turnover, Gault added a mid-range
baseline jumper to give UALR a 37-35 lead with 12:38 left.
With the home team holding a slim 44-42 edge, Middle
Tennessee scored 10 unanswered over a 2:34 span to push the lead to
double-digits. Jones started the run with a free throw followed by a Rowe
jumper while being fouled. She followed that with a fast-break layup while
being fouled to put MTSU up 51-42. Elie capped the run on a triple and
Middle Tennessee led 54-42 with 6:58 left in the game. UALR never got closer
than eight as MTSU held on for the nine-point win.
UALR returns to action Saturday when it travels to Bowling
Green, Ky. to take on Western Kentucky. Game time is set for 2 p.m.