Murfreesboro-- Although North Dakota State's team mascot is the Bison, they are sometimes referred to as the Thundering Herd. However, the only "thunder heard" on Tuesday evening were the ovations of the 2500+ Blue Raider fandom faithful. Lightening struck, as 25th-ranked MTSU (11-3) connected on 17 3-pointers in a 93-63 non-conference victory over NDSU (6-6) in the Glass House, the most lopsided loss of the season for the Bison Women.
NDSU jumped out to an early 4-0 lead behind a pair of free throws by junior forward Brenda Slyt and a jumper by junior guard Lisa Bue, who leads the Bison Ladies in scoring at 14.5 ppg.
Middle Tennessee took its initial lead at the 14:33 mark of the first half on a 3-pointer by highly-touted freshman Brandi Brown. This was a foreshadowing of great things to come from Jamestown's (TN) Brown, who had her most prolific night of her young Blue Raider career.
MTSU proceeded to drain the treys, with a 24-4 run over a 5-minute stretch midway through the first stanza, expanding the lead to 32-12. The Lady Raiders never looked back in their first game just hours after being ranked No. 25 in the latest USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll. Middle Tennessee is also ranked No. 21 in the nation by Scout.com. During the large first-half run, true freshman Jackie Pickel of Cleveland, TN, nailed three consecutive treys, while frosh Chelsia Lymon and sophomore Johnna Abney added trifectas of their own.
The Lady Raiders took a commanding 47-26 lead at the half over NDSU, who had beaten Minnesota convincingly less than two weeks ago in Fargo. The Bison women were coming off of a 78-53 loss at Alabama, a team coached by former Middle Tennessee skipper Stephany Smith, on December 18th.
Middle continued its "reigning" ways in the second half, taking a 36-point lead at the 5:00 mark, and MTSU head coach Rick Insell emptied his bench. NDSU could get no closer than a 21-point deficit early in the second stanza. The Lady Raiders narrowly missed a school record, hitting on 17-of-32 treys. Middle Tennessee made 18 3-pointers in a 2/6/95 win over UT-Chattanooga. On Tuesday evening 15 of MT's 17 treys came from true freshman, the 15 coming off the bench.
Brown hit 7-of-10 treys and led MTSU in scoring with 25 points, a career-high. Pickel connected on 6-of-9 and tallied 18 points, also a career-high. Junior Amber Holt scored 18 points, and All-American candidate Chrissy Givens got some much needed rest on the bench, but still managed double figures with 10. Abney and Lymon nailed two treys apiece, and finished with 8 and 6 points, respectively. Senior Krystle Horton added 8 points.
Lisa Bue notched a career-high for North Dakota State, who had beaten the Lady Raiders last season, with 21 points. Slyt scored 13, and added to her streak at the charity stripe, going 6-of-6 at the line, and has hit 26 straight, 3 shy of the NDSU record. No other Lady Bison had more than half a dozen points.
Middle Tennessee tries to remain atop its perch in the Sun Belt East, and closes out a 5-game home stand hosting the Troy Trojans (6-5, 1-2) on Saturday evening at 7 pm in the Murphy Center, part of a double-header with the men, who face Troy at 2 pm. NDSU travels to Wisconsin- Green Bay (10-3) next Tuesday, January 9th.