EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – After a slow start, Middle Tennessee found its groove in the second half and defeated SIUE 81-74 on Sunday afternoon at First Community Arena.
The Lady Raiders (5-2) found themselves in a battle with the Cougars (1-6) right out of the gate. After a tightly contested first quarter, SIUE immediately grabbed a 31-22 lead to begin the second.
MTSU chipped away at SIUE’s and thanks to six points from Iullia Grabovskaia to close out the half, and the Lady Raiders went into the break down just 40-39.
Middle Tennessee opened the second half with an 8-0 run and extended its lead to 57-49 at the first media break. MTSU took a 67-53 lead into the fourth. Despite a late effort by the Cougars, the Lady Raiders would go on to win 81-74.
“Coach (Jimmy) Earle told me about 19 years ago that anytime you get an NCAA Division I win on the road, you better be thankful,” MT women’s coach Rick Insell said. “We were favored in this game and SIUE set the tempo. I think they came out and started knocking down 3s and grabbing every loose ball and converting those chances.
“They were ready to play and we were not. We took this team for granted and they just came out here and stuck it to us. It’s not going to get any easier. I thought they got really aggressive with Anastasiia (Boldyreva) inside and they’ll be doing that at Houston, too. We have to get back down to the basics over the next couple of days.”
Ta’Mia Scott led MTSU with a career-high 21 points and four rebounds. She was followed by Courtney Whitson with 16 points and six rebounds, Jalynn Gregory with 14 points and Savannah Wheeler with 10 points and six assists. Grabovskaia added eight points and a team-high seven boards.
The Lady Raiders travel to Houston, Texas, to take on the Houston Cougars on Wednesday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN+.