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Lady Raiders falls in opening round of NCAA Tourney




Austin, Texas Middle Tennessee scared Tennessee No. 13 in the opening round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, but a strong third-quarter push from the Lady Vols took them to an 87-62 victory here on Sunday.

The teams were 39-39 tied in half and the Lady Raiders (17-8) had visions of becoming the first No. 14 seed to disrupt a No. 3 in tournament history, but Tennessee (17-7) had other plans come out of the break.

The Lady Vols used a 23-10 run in the third quarter to take them to victory.

Middle Tennessee was 0-for-4 with two turnovers on the first six holdings of the third quarter, while Tennessee was 4-for-5 off the field and 2-of-2 off the free-throw line on their first six holdings to times it Tide.

Tennessee used the strong start to the third quarter to build the game’s first two-digit lead, 56-44 with 3:33 remaining in the frame.

Anastasia Hayes ended a remarkable junior campaign with a game high of 26 points, five assists and three steals. Aislynn Hayes was also in double digits for the Lady Raiders with 15 points, while adding two assists and one steal. She played all 40 minutes without turnover.

The first half sparked an excited basketball brand and hopes for a first round for Middle Tennessee. The Lady Vols sped up to a 16-9 lead, but Middle Tennessee ended the quarter strongly. Aislynn Hayes’ long 3-pointer with 29 seconds to go, pulled the Lady Raiders within 21-18 at the end of the quarter.

Alexis Whittington Anastasia Hayes Aislynn Hayes and Exit Cage all converted field goals during Middle Tennessee’s first quarter.

The Lady Raiders won the second quarter 21-18, with an exciting basketball brand to hit 39-39 at half time.

Middle Tennessee was 7th of 17 off the field in the second quarter, including 4 of 11 out of 3 point range. Anastasia Hayes led the Lady Raider scoring with seven in the quarter while Courtney Whitson matched six points based on two 3-pointers and Alexis Whittington contributed five.

“We felt good at half time,” said Lady Raider Head Coach Rick Insell said. “We were able to fight on the boards and we made shots in the first half. Making shots is what we stand for. We were unable to take a few shots to start the third quarter, and Tennessee took advantage of it. “

In the end, Tennessee’s size was too great. The Lady Vols had a decisive advantage on the boards, winning the rebound fight 56-21. Of those 56 rebounds, 20 were on the offensive when Tennessee collected 21 second chance points. He also scored 48 out of 87 points in paint.

“Their size was a difference,” said Insell. “We haven’t been out like that all season. We knew we had to keep them off the offensive boards to have a chance and we couldn’t in the second half.”

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