Women’s basketball: Middle Tennessee takes over paint in third straight loss

The Owls have now dropped seven of their last eight with the loss to the Blue Raiders

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Women’s basketball: Middle Tennessee takes over paint in third straight loss

Freshman forward Ra'Kyra Gabriel goes for a layup versus Middle Tennessee Thursday. Mohammed F. Emran | Staff Photographer

Freshman forward Ra'Kyra Gabriel goes for a layup versus Middle Tennessee Thursday. Mohammed F. Emran | Staff Photographer

Freshman forward Ra'Kyra Gabriel goes for a layup versus Middle Tennessee Thursday. Mohammed F. Emran | Staff Photographer

Freshman forward Ra'Kyra Gabriel goes for a layup versus Middle Tennessee Thursday. Mohammed F. Emran | Staff Photographer

Ryan Lynch, Multimedia Editor

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Thursday was a tale of two very distinct shooting performances between Florida Atlantic women’s basketball and Middle Tennessee State University, as the Blue Raiders were able to turn a good offensive night into a 83-73 win.

Taking over the inside of the FAU paint for much of the game, the Blue Raiders managed to score 38 points when they were close to the basket. Led by guard Brea Edwards, who had a 23-point night, four Blue Raiders registered double-digit scoring totals.

“They’ve got talented post players. They’re strong, they’re physical and if you don’t get in the right position they’re going to bury you down low,” head coach Kellie Lewis-Jay said. “ I don’t think we did a good job obviously of playing post defense, of limiting their touches. When we doubled teamed, it was late. We didn’t necessarily take them out of anything they wanted to do.”

The Owls’ offense was held back by an MTSU defense that only gives up an average of 62.3 points per game. Forced to rely on long shots with only 22 points in the paint, FAU went 11-for-26 from behind the three-point arc in an inconsistent night for its shooters.

A poor first half played into the Owls falling behind, as they shot 10-of-29 from the field and allowed themselves to trail by 17 at the half. Mistakes by FAU gave the Raiders opportunities to put themselves ahead with 15 points off turnovers in the first two quarters.

“We knew they were going to pressure us and turn us over a few times, but what we couldn’t have was unforced turnovers,” Lewis-Jay said of the Blue Raiders’ defensive presence. “I thought we had a few of those in the first quarter that hurt us and gave them the ball back when we had crucial possessions we needed to get points on.”

In total, the Owls finished the game with 14 turnovers to MTSU’s 17.

Redshirt senior Ali Gorrell and sophomore forward Melinda Myers tied with 15 points each. It was a career-high for Myers, who fouled out of the game in the fourth quarter.

“I was just kind of going with the flow,” Myers said of her performance. “Kind of just being where my teammates needed me and doing what I do best: cutting, rebounding and setting screens.”

“I’ve gotten a lot more confidence since last year, I lost a bit of my confidence coming out of high school into college and I’ve just started getting it back.”

Sophomore forward Sasha Cedeno hit all five of her shots, which all were 3-pointers, as well as a
free throw for 16 total points and the team-scoring lead.

FAU has now dropped seven of its last eight games, with the only win in that stretch coming against the University of San Antonio at Texas on on Jan. 23.

Saturday will bring the University of Alabama at Birmingham to FAU Arena for the first of two matchups between the two teams. The Blazers have lost their last four games coming into the 5 p.m. matchup.

“We’re both going to come in hungry, both come in needing a win,” Lewis-Jay said. “They’re a good basketball team. It’s not going to be easy. That’s the thing about this conference, there are no easy games.”

Ryan Lynch is the multimedia editor of the University Press. For tips regarding this or other articles, he can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter.