MURFREESBORO -- BlueRaiderZone.com Co-Players-of-the-Game Krystle Horton and Chrissy Givens dazzled the crowd on Senior Day, going out in style with a 76-63 victory over Florida Atlantic (6-24, 2-16). Middle Tennessee (26-3, 18-0) won for the 23rd consecutive time, the second longest win streak in the nation behind No. 1 Duke. MTSU equaled a school record with their 26th win of the season.
Horton hit 11-of-14 from the field and netted a season-high 27 points, while recording another double/double with 10 rebounds. The 6-2 Murfreesboro native and former Riverdale High career-scoring leader added 3 blocked shots, 2 steals, and an assist. She moved into 8th place on the all-time career scoring list for the Lady Raider program.
"This game had the same physicality that the game in Boca Raton had," said Horton. "This was a rough game with lots of fouls, but we did our thing and came out with the win".
All-America candidate Givens hit 9-of-9 from the charity stripe and nailed 2 trifectas, scoring 31 points for the second straight game. The Monroe (LA) product collected 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 assists, and one block. Both Givens and Horton have reached the NCAA Tournament all 4 years while at Middle Tennessee.
"Krystle and Chrissy were not going to be denied," said MTSU head coach Rick Insell, "but they're seniors and did what they were supposed to do. They are going to have to work really hard to keep Chrissy Givens from being the Sun Belt Player-of-the-Week this time".
FAU led for just 15 seconds (6-5) early in the contest, and the Blue Raiders moved the lead to double digits in the first half. MT led by 6 at the break, but the Lady Owls cut the deficit to just 3 at the 16:00 mark of the second half. However, the Lady Raiders buried the Owls with an 18-0 run in a 5:30 span midway through the second half.
"We are so blessed to have all of our assistant coaches-- Kevin McMillan, Myra Fishback, Allison Clark, and Tom Hodges-- all who are experts in their field," said Insell. "They make life a lot easier for me."
"We are so lucky to be allowed the free hand that we need to get things done," added Insell. "I owe that to AD Chris Massaro and President Sidney McPhee.
"(Associate AD) Alan Farley is out raising money for us and is a personal friend. All of our coaches have been supportive-- Kermit, 'Stock', Coach Pete, Dale Short, Dean Hayes, Matt Peck, and Aston Rhoden. The list goes on and on. All of these folks are helping Middle Tennessee bring academics and athletics here to one of the finest institutions in the country."
The Lady Raiders forced 31 FAU turnovers, and outscored FAU in second-chance points 21-5. MT shot just 3-of-26 from three-point land (11.5%) but connected on 19-of-22 from the free throw line (86.4%).
"I am very, very thankful that I came to MTSU," said Horton. "We have great fan support, and they help make great things happen."
Mistoria Brown led Florida Atlantic with 14 points. Cristal Randolph tallied 12, Susan Beauzil 10, and Shuteamia Brayboy 9.
Middle Tennessee, thought to be a lock in the NCAA Tourney, heads to Lafayette (LA) to take on the winner of North Texas/South Alabama in the second round of the Sun Belt Tournament. The Lady Raiders are the No. 1 seed and receive a first-round bye. They will play at 12:30 PM Central Time.
"We are hoping for a 3 seed if we win the tournament," said Insell. "We don't know what goes on behind closed doors with the selection committee, but we have done our part."