Four players in double figures and a dominant all-around performance by senior Cheyenne Parker helped propel the Middle Tennessee (13-5, 7-1 C-USA) to a convincing 73-53 victory over UTSA at Murphy Center Thursday.
Middle Tennessee won its fourth straight and tasted victory for the ninth time in 10 games. The Blue Raiders also improved to 78-7 in January games under Head Coach Rick Insell, including 7-1 this season.
Fresh off of winning the USBWA National Player of the Week, Parker put on a show in front of the 4,605 fans in attendance with 25 points, 17 rebounds (nine offensive) and eight blocked shots. The Queens, N.Y., native shot an efficient 9-of-14 from the field and 7-of-9 from the charity stripe as well. She notched her C-USA leading ninth double-double of the season.
Sophomore Olivia Jones also put in a solid performance with 19 points, six boards, dished out four assists and collected three steals, while sophomore China Dow came off the bench to pour in 15 points, grab five off the glass and rack up five steals. Sophomore Ty Petty rounded out the leading scorers with 11 points and four assists.
Defensively, MT held UTSA (9-11, 4-4) to 32.8 percent shooting from the field and forced the Roadrunners into 21 miscues.
A pair of long runs by both teams set the tone for the first half as the Blue Raiders pieced together an impressive 17-0 run over a span 4:41 to go up 24-8.
Parker finished, and started the run with a pair of layups as she and Jones combined for 13 of the 17 points, while Dow chipped in with four points. MT forced UTSA into seven turnovers during the run and a 5:29 scoring drought.
The Blue Raiders went into the locker room with a 30-23 lead despite UTSA climbing back into single digits following a 15-6 output over the final 10:14 of the first stanza.
The duo of Jones and Parker kept MT afloat with 24 of the team’s next 30 points on 10-for-21 shooting from the field. Parker dominated the paint as she collected nine boards and swatted four shots to go along with 12 points, while MT scored 18 of its 30 points in the paint during a span that allowed the Blue Raiders to take complete control.
UTSA would cut the lead to just four, 32-28 in the opening minutes of the second half after a 5-2 spurt. MT responded with a 10-4 run thanks to Petty spearheading the run with seven points that put MT ahead, 42-32. The Blue Raiders cruised the rest of the way as the lead stretched to 23, 73-50, before sealing the win.
MT will look for the Texas sweep when the Blue Raiders square off against UTEP inside the Murphy Center at 11 a.m.