2013 Sun Belt Conference Women’s Basketball Championship – Game 8
Powerful Finish Propels Raiders into SBC Title Game
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - A second half comeback propelled Middle Tennessee into its' 10th Sun Belt Championship title game, as the top-seeded Blue Raiders upended No. 5 seed FIU, 68-59, Sunday afternoon at the Summit Arena.
The Blue Raiders (24-7) were held to under 40 percent shooting in the first half, knocking down just 7-of-19 attempts. FIU (19-12) also outmanned MT by 10 boards in the opening stanza. The Panthers opened to their largest lead of 10 early in the second period.
MT shot 52 percent (13-of-25) down the stretch and used 19 second half points from All-America candidate Ebony Rowe to secure the win.
MT makes its' 10th Sun Belt Championship title game appearance in 11 years on Monday. The Blue Raiders return to the SBC Championship for the second consecutive year and faces the winner of WKU/UALR in a nationally televised game on ESPNU set for 1 p.m.
With eight minutes remaining, the Raiders trailed 50-51. Rowe's layup at 8:10 gave MT its' first lead of the half and sparked an 18-to-9 run to end the game. Rowe finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds for her 19th double-double this season and the 51st
of her career. The junior knocked down 7-of-10 from the line.
FIU's Jerica Coley drained a jumper at 3:13 to cut the Raiders' lead to 60-59. Kortni Jones hit a critical shot on the next possession to extend the MT advantage to three. Jones added two more free throws and Caroline Warden picked up a critical steal before
drawing a foul to add two more points.
Jones finished the game with 26 points, going 7-of-14 from the field and 8-of-8 at the charity stripe. The Oak Ridge product dished out seven assists in 40 minutes of action. Warden scored 10 points with three assists and a steal.
Icelyn Elie narrowly missed a double-double with 10 points and eight rebounds. The Lebanon product also notched two assists and two steals in 40 minutes.
Overall, MT shot 46 percent (20-of-44) from the field, while both teams corralled 33 rebounds. The Raiders had 14 assists and produced three blocks, all of which were from Rowe.