CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Middle Tennessee used a strong-willed defensive effort by forcing 19 Miami turnovers to pick up a 61-55 victory over the Hurricanes on Friday evening at the BankUnited Center.
Miami (1-2) battled throughout the first half taking as much as a six point lead. The Blue Raiders (1-1) closed out the half with a 34-32 lead and never trailed afterwards.
In the second half, MT extended the lead to eight en route to their first win over an ACC opponent since upending North Carolina, 60-58, on March 19, 2005. Head coach Rick Insell, already the school’s all-time wins leader, collected his 200th career victory on Friday.
Senior forward Ebony Rowe once again had an excellent game, scoring 19 points and nine rebounds with three assists and two steals. Rowe moved to eighth all-time in career points, surpassing Alysha Clark. Rowe now has 1,759 points in her four-year career.
Shanice Cason reached double digits for the second consecutive game with 10 points and four rebounds. Murfreesboro native Olivia Jonesnarrowly missed a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes of action. CenterKeKe Stewart played strong with eight points and six boards in a career-high 32 minutes.
MT finished the game shooting 33 percent (21-of-64) with seven treys. Miami knocked down 34 percent (20-of-58). MT forced 19 Hurricane turnovers and turned those into 10 points. Defensively, the Raiders had six steals with two coming from Rowe. The Raiders dished out 14 assists and collected 42 rebounds. Keyona Haynes was one of three Hurricanes to reach double digits, leading UM with 12 points.
To start the game, both teams traded baskets back and forth before Miami extended their lead to six with 12:35 left in the half. Stewart found an open trey to put MT within one, 19-18, with less than eight minutes remaining.
The Blue Raiders took a 26-23 lead when Cason hit a trey. The two traded blows until MacKenzie Sells hit a fade-away shot to put the Raiders up 34-32 at intermission.
Rowe led all scorers at the half with 12 points and five rebounds. Middle Tennessee shot 41 percent from the field (14-of-34) with four treys. The Canes were held to 37 percent (11-of-30). MT held a slight edge in the rebound column, 21-20.
Middle Tennessee used a critical trey from Laken Leonard to take a 39-36 lead in the second half. A Jones basket underneath combined with a plus-one free throw put MT up 47-41 with 11:38 remaining.
With 10:36 left, MT stretched its lead to eight. Rowe moved in sole possession to eighth all-time in career scoring with a basket at 8:29. Stewart drained a trey to put the Blue Raiders up 55-47 with 4:26 left. Miami cut the lead to four, but couldn’t battle back as the Blue Raiders won their 200th game under coach Insell.
Middle Tennessee returns to action on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at Arkansas. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Bud Walton Arena.
Head Coach Rick Insell picked his 200th career victory … Ebony Rowe‘s 19 points moved her into eighth all-time with 1,759 points, passing Coach Alysha Clark …Shanice Cason reached double figures for the second consecutive game … Middle Tennessee picked up its first win over an AC C opponent since upending NC State on March 19, 2005 … KeKe Stewart set a career-high with 32 minutes played … MT handed Miami only its fifth loss at home in the past five seasons.