Insell Pleased with Effort vs. No. 5 Louisville

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Middle Tennessee fans got their first chance to see the Lady Raiders at home Wednesday when the Louisville Cardinals came to the Murphy Center.

The No. 5 ranked Cardinals (3-0) proved to be too much for the Raiders (0-2), and returned home to Louisville with a 91-72 win in front of 4,516.
“They’re just a great team,” Middle Tennessee Head Coach Rick Insell said. “You might have been looking at the national champions tonight … they have a type of team that can win it all.

“But I’m pretty proud of our team. We came back, we battled, we knocked down shots, we didn’t quit – I’m pretty proud of that.”

Louisville’s length was the difference in the contest. With eight players listed at 6-foot or taller, the Cardinals edged the Raiders 34-28 in points in the paint.

Their length allowed them to limit the Blue Raiders to a 45.3 field goal percentage for the game (29-64), and a few of Middle’s misses came right at the basket.
The test Louisville gave the Raiders with its size is something Insell hopes his team will grow from as they move deeper into the season.

“We hope we can grow up,” he said. “We lost by 19 points, and I would say we probably missed seven chip shots maybe. That’s uncontested shots that we usually knock down. I don’t know if we’ll see anybody in our conference as big as them.”

With the Cardinals’ size down low, Middle did a lot of work offensively on the perimeter. The Blue Raiders hit 11-of-23 shots from three-point range.

Senior point guard Ty Petty was the driver from distance. She hit five of her nine attempts from beyond the arc.

Petty was also the most-effective Blue Raider on the offensive end. She torched the Cardinals for a team- and career-high 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting.

“I would definitely trade the win for the points, but I just did whatever I had to do for my team to try and will us to a win,” Petty said.

Scoring wasn’t her only impact on the game. Petty, the Middle Tennessee all-time single-season assist leader, ended with a double-double with 11 assists and a team-high three steals. She now has a school record six career games with double figures in assists.

“I’ve said I think she’s one of the top point guards in the country, and I think [Louisville head coach Jeff Walz] will say the same thing,” Insell said.

Other leaders on the offensive end for the Blue Raiders included sophomore Alex Johnson with 13 points, sophomore Jess Louro with nine and junior Rebecca Reuter with seven points and a team-high seven rebounds.

Looking ahead, Middle Tennessee is next in action Saturday on the road at Tennessee Tech. Insell said he wants to see his team forget about Tuesday’s loss as they prepare for Saturday’s game.

“We have to flush this and go on to Tennessee Tech Saturday night,” he said. “They’re going to be playing with as much emotion as we played with tonight, so we have to be very careful going up there. My thing the next two days will be getting our kids away from this game and getting them on to the next game.”
Saturday’s contest at Tennessee Tech is scheduled to tip off at 6 p.m.

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