Blue Raiders Stave off Owls Comeback Bid
Feb. 12, 2015
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Rice senior center Christal Porter earned her fifth consecutive double-double (11 points, 15 rebounds) and sixth in her last seven games but it was not enough to slow down the first place Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders in a 79-61 loss Thursday evening at the Murphy Center.
The Owls (7-15, 2-9) made a big comeback midway through the second half, climbing back from a 22-point deficit at the 18 minute mark to within 64-56 with 4:28 remaining but never got closer. MT (16-6, 10-2) got a monster game from senior center Cheyenne Parker, who scored a game-high 29 points, grabbed 14 points and added three blocks, breaking the Blue Raiders single-season blocks record.
MT took advantage of 27 Rice fouls by converting 27-of-37 (73 percent) at the free throw line while the Owls went 13-of-22 at the charity stripe. The Blue Raiders outscored the Owls 30-12 in the paint and forced Rice into 20 turnovers.
The Owls matched MT in the second half in points, 35-35, and shot 42 percent from the field to give themselves a chance late. Rice got solid play from their bench as well, outscoring the Blue Raiders by a 31-15 margin.
"We really we're much more aggressive in the second half, particularly offensively," Rice head coach Greg Williams said. "We cut it down to eight points but we couldn't convert on some easy buckets and went 4-for-10 at the free throw line in the second half. They got a big game from Parker but I thought we did a good job on Olivia Jones, who came into the game leading the league in scoring and we held her to 13. We committed way too many fouls and some of our key players had to sit out a while. I thought Christal Porter had an outstanding game, battling on the boards and getting a double-double against premier post player in the league."
Rice went on a 23-9 run to climb back into the game, which included an 11-0 run from the 16:58-13:19 mark. The Owls got a boost off the bench from both freshman Shani Rainey (10 points) and junior forward Megan Palmer (8 points). Maya Adetula also chipped in seven points, all coming in the first half.
The Owls pulled to within 26-18 at the 6:27 mark of the first half following a made three-pointer from the left corner by Megan Shafer. However, the Blue Raiders outscored the Owls 18-8 the final six minutes to take a 44-26 halftime lead.
Rice was unable to slow down Parker in the opening half as they senior center poured in 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field (5-of-7 at the free throw line) along with eight rebounds and two blocks. The Owls shot just 30 percent (8-of-27) from the field in the opening 20 minutes but were able to make 9-of-12 attempts (75 percent) at the free throw line.
The Owls will look to snap their three-game losing streak on Saturday when they travel to UAB with tipoff set for 2 p.m.