By: Deshaun Ellis
MTN Sports Reporter
It's tournament time at MTSU and the women’s basketball team is coming off of a successful season, going 23-7 and being undefeated at home. They look to continue this into the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, and through the first two games they have succeeded. Walking into the Murphy Center you can feel the tension before the first buzzer even sounds. The MTSU women’s basketball team faced the Wofford women's basketball team on March 17th, and they blew them out of the water. They ended up beating Wofford 86-56. From the opening tip-off it seemed like MTSU had this one in the bag, and they played like they had this win the entire time. The Wofford team couldn’t seem to stop MTSU from cutting inside and most of the points in the first half. Center Anastasiia Boldyreva, dominated the post with her up and under game and Wofford was no match for the home team’s defense either. MTSU finished the game with 7 steals and as the game progressed it only got worse. Towards the end of the game the few fans there supporting Wofford weren’t even paying attention by the end of the game.
The Lady Raiders seemed to be unstoppable from outside the arc making 12-31 shots. Most of those buckets came from freshman guard Jalynn Gregory who went 5 for 7. Guard Dor Saar hit 4 out of 6 three’s, as well. Saar also scored the most points that night with 16. On the defensive end, Junior Forward Courtney Whitson snagged nine rebounds with Kseniya Malashka and Alexis Whittington both grabbing seven each.
This momentum carried on into their next game against Wake Forest where the team beat the Demon Deacons 67-55. Wake Forest didn't seem to have an answer for the Lady Raiders as they started to trail early and never regained the lead. Due to poor defense and lackluster offense by Wake Forest, MTSU took control of the game and never seemed to let up. MTSU’s defense was on another level this game, the team ended up with six steals, six blocks and 34 rebounds. It was another stellar game for junior forward Kseniya Malashka who finished with 18 points, three rebounds and two blocks. On the defensive end, freshman center Anastasiia Boldyreva finished with six rebounds and four blocks.
The Lady Raiders went into their game against Vanderbilt knowledgeable about their high steal numbers. According to guard Alexis Whittington, the team knew the game was going to come down to who had the better defense. This tactic proved fruitful as the MTSU ended the game with nine steals as a team with guards Dor Saar and Whittington both snatching the ball three times. The energy was fast and high the entire night. It didn’t seem like either team slowed down for the entire duration. Dor Saar walked away with 13 points and a couple clutch three’s, “I work everyday on those shots. People tell me ‘Wow those shots are crazy.’ Maybe it seems to you crazy, but I do work with them everyday.“ The game came down to the very end when forward Kseniya Malashka drained two very clutch free throws to give MTSU the lead, then an even bigger block to seal the game. Malashka didn’t seem to be fazed by the pressure, “I calmed myself down and prepared for the free throws.” On the block she said, “ We’ve worked the whole season on the help sides so I was just at the right place at the right time.