Women’s Basketball: Owls drop fourth straight to Middle Tennessee

Despite posting one of their best offensive performances to date, the Owls fell to the Lady Raiders for the second time this season Thursday night.


Nicholas Windfelder

Freshman guard Ajalon Gillard hits the paint for a layup shot against Middle Tennessee. The two point progression brought the score to 30-36 during the second quarter.

Cameron Priester, Sports Editor

FAU women’s basketball (12-13, 5-11 C-USA) had their late comeback attempt fall short in a 85-77 defeat to the Middle Tennessee State University Lady Raiders (MTSU)(21-4, 14-2 C-USA) Thursday night at Eleanor R. Baldwin Arena. 

The 8-point loss marked the Owls’ fourth consecutive defeat, leaving them with a losing record for the first time this season.

Though redshirt junior guard Joiya Maddox scored the first points of the game on a pair of free throws, the Lady Raiders quickly jumped ahead to a 7-point lead in the opening five minutes. 

Despite senior guard Alexa Zaph’s 10 points in the first quarter, struggles with turnovers by the Owls allowed MTSU to go into the second quarter with a 24-18 lead.

The Lady Raiders’ red-hot shooting, which has them ranked as the best offensive team in the conference, coupled with the Owls’ 10 first half turnovers left MTSU ahead by 9-points after two quarters. In the final minute of the first, Lady Raiders’ senior forward Courtney Whitson sank a three-pointer, but redshirt junior Joiya Maddox answered back with a mid range jump shot that left the Owls down 41-32 heading into the second half.

As a team, the Owls were shooting 45.8% from the field and 66.7% from three-point range at halftime. Freshman guard Aniya Hubbard, who’s leading the Owls with an average 13.6 points per game, was held to just two points in the first half. 

As the second half began, the Lady Raiders got to work extending their lead. By the halfway point of the third quarter, MTSU had extended their lead to 20-points thanks to another three-pointer by Whitson.

Whitson, who finished the night with 21 points, sank the fourth of her five three-pointers halfway through the third quarter which extended the Lady Raiders’ lead to 20-points.

By the end of the third quarter, that lead had been pushed out to 24 points—the largest of the night.

Though they faced a colossal deficit heading into the final quarter of play, the Owls turned what once was a blowout into an interesting game in the fourth.

Starting at the 7:50 mark in the fourth quarter, FAU went on a 17-6 scoring run, which left them down by eight after trailing by as much as 24 in the third quarter.

However, MTSU ended that run and took back the momentum, scoring on their next two possessions to push their lead back out to 12-points with just over a minute in regulation.

Despite outscoring the Lady Raiders 30-14 in the fourth quarter, the Owls’ late comeback attempt fell short as they ultimately fell 85-77.

Even amidst the 8-point defeat, FAU had one of their most efficient games of the season on the offensive end. The Owls shot 49.1% from the field, the second best mark they’ve hit all season, and 69.2% from beyond the arc—their best three-point percentage entering Thursday night was 55.6%. 

Following a week of rest, FAU will pay a visit to the University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners (7-17, 5-10 C-USA) on Thursday, Feb. 23. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast by ESPN+.

Cameron Priester is the Sports Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @PriesterCameron