1/6/2012 2:05:00 PM
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Middle Tennessee women's basketball will return to the court less than 48 hours after a road game Thursday when it welcomes Louisiana to town for a 3 p.m. Saturday tip inside the historic Murphy Center.
The Blue Raiders are coming off a hard-fought, 72-66 overtime win at Troy Thursday in which they were tested for 45 minutes against the Trojans. Middle Tennessee found itself down eight at halftime and forced the extra period on a Shanice Cason free throw with 10 seconds remaining in regulation. Kortni Jones hit a pair of 3-pointers to start overtime and lift MT to the road victory in the first game of the 2012 calendar year.
Reigning Sun Belt Player of the Week Ebony Rowe continues to top the team with averages of 16.6 points and 10.1 rebounds. Jones (15.5 ppg) and Elie (12.3) give the Blue Raiders a trio in double-figure scoring, while Elie ranks second behind Rowe with 7.6 rebounds per outing.
Middle Tennessee has won its last five games entering Saturday's matchup, dating back to a 94-53 triumph over Tennessee State Dec. 18. Four of the five wins have come at home where the Blue Raiders are 7-2 this season.
Louisiana brings a 5-9 overall and 0-2 Sun Belt mark into the game, having dropped a 49-45 decision at Western Kentucky Wednesday in its last time out. It was the fourth-straight setback for the Ragin' Cajuns, who last won Dec. 16 by defeating Bethune-Cookman 72-67 on the road.
Senior guard Krystal Motley tops head coach Errol Rogers' squad with 12.8 ppg. Junior forward Josie West is the team's leading rebounder with 4.4 per game after Louisiana lost two post players (Kemi Rotibi and Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team honoree Mercedes Johnson) for the year back in December.
Blue Raider head coach Rick Insell is 8-0 all-time against the Ragin' Cajuns, picking up one-half of the program's wins in the all-time 16-0 series advantage dating back to the first meeting Feb. 17, 2001. Middle Tennessee has scored at least 80 points in each of the last four matchups and six of the last seven meetings.
Dick Palmer and Duane Hickey will call all the action on the Blue Raider Network of WMOT (89.5 FM) and WGNS (1450 AM, 100.5 FM, 101.9 FM).
In addition, 2012 Sun Belt Conference Tournament booklets are now on sale at the Middle Tennessee athletic ticket office. Cost per booklet is $83 and includes a ticket to all eight sessions of the Sun Belt Championships, March 3-6, in Hot Springs, Ark. Fans can purchase booklets by calling 1-888-YES-MTSU or visiting goblueraiders.com.