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November 14, 2012

Preview: MT at Iowa

Fresh off of two impressive victories to start their season, the Middle Tennessee State Lady Raiders are set to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Semifinals of the Women's Preseason NIT Tournament.

After cruising past Kennesaw State and Memphis, MT looks to be building off of the tremendous season they had last year.

The Hawkeyes have looked good themselves at the start of this season, defeating Northern Illinois by the score of 63-40 and then followed that with a win over Illinois State Redbirds, 76-64.

The Lady Hawkeyes made the NCAA Tournament last year as a 9-seed following a 19-11 record during the regular season. They lost 84-74 in the opening round to California, thus ending their season.

It was Iowa's 21st appearance in the Big Dance and their fifth straight. Their best season was in 1993 when they made the Final Four. However, the Lady Hawkeyes have been eliminated in the opening round four of their last five trips to the Big Dance.

BREAKING DOWN THE LADY HAWKEYES

After last year's 19-12 finish, the Lady Hawkeyes are looking for their sixth straight appearance to the NCAA Tournament, and they are off to a good start. The team brought back eight players from last year's roster, including three of their starters - two of which are seniors - which could spell trouble for the Lady Raiders.

Senior guard Jamie Printy averaged almost 17 points a game last year with 4.5 rebounds while shooting 34 percent from the field and 89 percent from the free throw line . Printy started and played in 23 of Iowa's 31 games.

Senior center Morgan Johnson, also returns following a campaign in which she averaged 15 points, six rebounds and two blocks per game while shooting 55 percent from the field and 74 percent from the charity stripe.

The other top returners for Iowa include sophomore guard Samantha Logic who was the fourth best on last years team, averaging 9.5 points, four steals and seven rebounds per game. Logic also converted 42 percent from the field, 30 percent from long range and 75 percent of her free throws.

As for this season, Morgan Johnson has logged an average of 25 minutes per game while producing 17.5 points, seven boards, 2.5 blocks and a steal each game. She seems to be the star on the team. Bethany Doolittle has averaged five points and four blocks while playing 23 minutes per game. Overall, the team is averaging 68.5 points while giving up just 57.

BREAKING DOWN THE LADY RAIDERS

The Lady Raiders are having their way with their opponents so far this season, averaging a huge 84.5 points per game while only giving up 56.5. MT is led by junior Ebony Rowe and senior Kortni Jones.

Rowe scored 23 points while picking up 11 rebounds and four steals in MT's season opener. Kortni Jones scored an additional 21 points and had four assists in 32 minutes. The only other player in double figures that game was Icelyn Elie, who played 17 minutes and scored 10 points while picking up seven rebounds.

During the second game of the season however, Elie stepped up tremendously. She played all 40 minutes, scoring a career high 30 points and notching five rebounds. Kortni Jones and Ebony Rowe also played the entire game. Jones scored 14 points and had eight assists while Rowe kept doing what she's best at, picking up a team high seven boards while scoring 19 points.

Overall Jones, Rowe, and Elie are averaging 58.5 points while the rest of the team scores 26. The trio also shoots a collective 56 percent from the field and combines for 16 rebounds per game and 19 total assists.

PREDICTION: MT 73, IOWA 58

This game looks to favor the Lady Raiders on paper, and I see them winning in impressive fashion. However, looks can be deceiving. Yes, the "Big 3" for the Lady Raiders are putting up outstanding numbers, but Iowa has some of the tools needed to slow down the high-powered Lady Raider offense.

I think the score will be much closer than many of the experts are predicting, but the Lady Raiders should be able to pull away utilizing their stingy full court press on defense. Look for Rowe to notch yet another double-double and lead the charge for MT as they move on to the championship game of the WNIT.



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