Seahawks Fall To Blue Raiders In Opener
Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications
STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania - Junior Kortni Jones and sophomore Ebony Rowe combined for 47 points to lead Middle Tennessee State to a 79-60 victory over UNCW in collegiate women's basketball action Friday at the Lady Lion Classic, hosted by Penn State.
The Blue Raiders the host Lady Lions at Noon on Sunday after No. 12 PSU recorded a 72-60 victory over Washington State in the tournament opener. The Seahawks and Cougars close out the event Sunday in a 2 p.m. matchup
Jones scored 17 of her game-high 25 points in the first half and Rowe notched 13 of her 22 markers after intermission to power a Middle Tennessee lineup that finished the contest shooting 30-of-66 (.455) from the floor, highlighted by an 8-of-15 (.533) effort from three-point range. Rowe also grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds as Middle Tennessee enjoyed a 41-34 advantage on the glass.
Junior Icelyn Elie joined the duo in double figures with 13 points as the Blue Raiders took advantage of 28 UNCW turnovers by scoring 36 points off the Seahawks' miscues.
Junior transfer Ayoola Weaver scored a team-high 12 points in her Seahawk debut while junior Jessica Freeman and sophomore Abria Trice pitched in 11 points each for UNCW, who shot 44.4 percent (28-of-63) from the field for the game, but was just 3-of-19 (.158) for the evening from beyond the arc.
Middle Tennessee took control of the contest early, jumping out to a quick 13-0 lead as it converted on four-of-five possessions over a two-minute span to stretch an early 3-0 advantage into a double-digit cushion before the first media timeout.
A 7-2 UNCW spurt ended the run and cut the Blue Raiders advantage to 15-7, but Middle Tennessee responded with 15 of the next 22 points to regain its double-digit edge, 30-14, with 6:15 remaining.
The two sides would then trade baskets over the next six minutes until a layup by Rowe in the final seconds of the opening frame started a 15-4 run that would stretch to the 15:56 mark of the second half and gave the Blue Raiders their biggest lead of the game, 54-32.
Middle Tennessee would hold a double-digit lead the rest of the way, as UNCW would use a pair of 6-0 spurts on two occasions later in the frame to pull within 13, only to see the Blue Raiders push their lead back to 19 on both occasions, including a final 10-4 stretch that determined the 19-point margin of victory.
GAME NOTES: The contest was the first meeting between the two programs and the first game for UNCW against a school from the Sun Belt Conference ... UNCW suffered its first loss in a season opener since suffering a 74-48 setback at UNC Greensboro to open the 2006-07 season ... Four players - Trice, Tawanna Lee, Karneshia Garrett and Chelsea McGowen - all made their first career start for the Seahawks ... Garrett finished with a team-high nine rebounds for UNCW .... Garrett and Trice both finished with a team-best three blocked shots ... The Seahawks bench outscored the Blue Raiders reserves, 28-13 ... UNCW held a slim 44-42 edge in points in the paint ... Both teams finished with double-figure steals (MTSU 18, UNCW 14) ... Trice's 11 points were a career high for the Atlanta, Ga., native ... Freeman's 11 points represented the fourth time in her career that she has reached double figures.