MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Survive and advance is the name of the game at tournament time and that is what Middle Tennessee was able to do, securing a 67-58 win from Morehead State in the first round of the WNIT here Thursday night.
Middle Tennessee, which improved to 3-0 in WNIT first-round games under Head Coach Rick Insell, will play host to Wake Forest in second-round action Sunday at 2 p.m. Wake Forest was a 71-42 winner against Bethune-Cookman in its first-round game Tuesday.
“This was not a very good exhibition of basketball by our basketball team,” Insell said. “Our fans deserved better. I am appreciative that we won and we found a way to play another game, but this was not the type of basketball we pride ourselves on at Middle Tennessee. We will get back to work Friday and Saturday and prepare for a good Wake Forest team in the second round. We will have to play much better against them Sunday.”
Two mainstays assured Middle Tennessee would survive its first-round scare from Morehead State and reach the second round. Sophomore Alex Johnson led the Lady Raiders (22-10) with a double-double, finishing with 26 points and tying her career high with 12 rebounds.
Senior Ty Petty turned in another solid outing with 22 points, four assists and three steals.
Johnson moved into ninth on the single-season scoring list with 651 points, while Petty moved into 15th on the all-time scoring list with 1,404 career points.
Rebecca Reuter just missed a double-double with eight points and nine rebounds. Gabby Lyon added five points and three rebounds. Abbey Sissom (3), Kyla Allison (2) and Katie Collier (1) also got into the scoring column for the Lady Raiders.
Middle Tennessee shot 50 percent (6-for-12) from 3-point range, but was just 16-for-48 from inside the arc against the smaller Lady Eagles, who also won the rebounding battle, 43-41.
The Lady Raiders controlled the game from the outset but were never comfortably in control. They led by 13, 60-47, with 5:22 remaining, but Morehead State had trimmed the deficit to five, 63-58, with 1:50 to play.
Middle Tennessee closed the game on a 4-0 run to seal the victory and advance into the second round.