Middle Tennessee handles Florida International 64-57

Luis Barrio, Staff Reporter

The nationally ranked Middle Tennessee State women’s basketball team sealed their place in the Conference USA championship after a 64-57 victory over the Florida International Golden Panthers.

The Blue Raiders did it by outlasting the other team by scoring more and stopping their best offensive player with their own best perimeter defender in freshman Olivia Jones.

The Blue Raiders were led yet again by their senior safety net, Ebony Rowe. She tallied 25 points and 14 rebounds. Almost every time she got the ball in the post, she scored. She missed only four out of 15 shots in the game.

The two teams both scored 32 points in the second half. The advantage came going into halftime with the Blue Raiders up by seven.

Jerica Coley and the Golden Panthers would be playing their fourth game in four days when they faced Middle Tennessee.

“I’m sure that playing four games in four days had something to do with that.  We commend them. Cindy Russo is a tremendous coach,” said Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Insell. “I knew she (FIU’s Jerica Coley) was averaging 30 points. Coming in I knew the ball was going to go straight to her. It had to be a team defensive effort to not let her get those points.”

Jones wanted to limit her to 16 points in the game. Coley finished with 19. She has never finished with 30 points in a game against Middle Tennessee.

“I’m glad Coley is graduating,” said Insell respectively.

Coley has proven and re-proven what a natural and talented scorer she is. She ranks top five in the NCAA women’s all-time scoring list.

The Blue Raiders will now wait for the winner of UTEP vs. Southern Miss game in the Final and if victorious, a guaranteed spot in the NCAA tournament.

Luis Barrio may be reached @Luis_Barrio17 and [email protected].