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No. 5 Louisville looks like National Championship material

Middle Tennessee State opened up its home slate with a tall task in facing No. 5 Louisville. The Blue Raiders put up a fight, but ultimately dropped a 91-72 decision to the highly talented Cardinals.

Courtesy of Louisville Athletics

Murfreesboro, TN. -- A sea of red stormed the court of the Murphy Center tonight, Nov. 16, as Middle Tennessee State University took on the No. 5 ranked Louisville in their first home game of the season. The Blue Raiders fell victim to the Cardinals on their home turf by a final score of 91-72.

“They’re a great team,” MTSU Head Coach Rick Insell said. “Well-coached; you might’ve been looking at the National Champions tonight.”

After starting the season with a 63-51 loss to Virginia on Friday (Nov. 11), MTSU was ready to embrace their home court advantage and redeem themselves by spoiling Louisville’s night in front of their own family and friends.

However, Louisville did not make that easy. Taller, stronger, and faster - the Cardinals came into Middle Tennessee well-equipped and ready to put up a fight. The ladies in red, towered over the Blue Raiders and claimed the court as their own from the very first buzzer.

Louisville’s Mariya Moore, along with sophomore Asia Durr, made their presence immediately known, scoring 12 and 11 points, respectively, in the first half alone.

Although the team combined for nine turnovers in the first 20 minutes, the Cardinals were able to carry their lead through the entirety of the game. They led by 17 points at the end of the first half.

Even though MTSU trailed by as many as 24 points, they did not show any signs of discouragement. In fact, the Blue Raiders’ heart, teamwork, and chemistry with one another was a force to be reckoned with in the second half.

Senior Ty Petty was unbelievably quick on her feet as she demonstrated the willpower to close a 21-point gap for Middle Tennessee State. By the beginning of the fourth quarter, Petty had scored 20 of the Blue Raider’s 51 points. It seemed that her agility and speed were the only things MTSU could depend on against the looming heights of Louisville.

Petty scored a total of 27 points, setting a new career-high. When asked about her relentlessness, Louisville Head Coach Jeff Walz sang her praises.

“We tried to tell them [the team] Petty was good,” Walz said. “I think sometimes we didn’t guard her to see if she really was that good. I hope after 27 points they finally realized that she is that good.”

Unfortunately, the offensive firepower of Petty was not enough to even touch the sheer strength and stature of Louisville. For every point MTSU scored, the Cardinals had an answer. Louisville also held a commanding 44-30 rebounding advantage and shot 49.2% from the field as opposed to Middle Tennessee’s 45.3%.

Moore and Durr shined the brightest out of the cast of Cardinal stars. Moore scored 27 and Durr followed closely behind with 22. Even more impressive was Moore’s 9-14 (.643) percentage from the field.

“She is such a dynamic player,” Moore commented on Durr. “Having her takes so much pressure off of the other positions.”

With Moore and Durr leading the way for Louisville, the team was unstoppable. The Blue Raiders, figuratively and literally, remained in the shadows of Louisville for the entire 40 minutes of the game.

But even with a 19-point win for the Cardinals, Walz admitted there is still plenty of room for improvement this early in the season.

“Do we have some things to work on? Walz asked. “Yes - Middle Tennessee took advantage of some of our lapses in defense, but overall, I’m very pleased.”