The loss ended WKU's season at 9-21, while MTSU (25-5) moves on to Monday's tournament semifinals.
"I'm very proud of our team in the second half for continuing to fight," said Lady Topper head coach Mary Taylor Cowles. "Our team could have laid down and let Middle bury us, but they continued to battle and represent the three letters across the front of their uniform."
The Lady Toppers trailed by 13 at intermission, and found themselves down 18 after a Lauren March three-point play made it a 42-28 score with 16:38 to play. Danay Fothergill was able to single-handedly shoot the Lady Toppers back into the game, connecting on back-to-back threes to cut the deficit to 12 less than two minutes later. Fothergill would bury five three pointers in the second half in the second half, finishing with six for the game and scoring a career-high 18 points.
The Blue Raiders stretched their lead back out to 17 points with just over eight minutes to go, but again WKU fought back to get within nine on another Fothergill trey with 4:05 remaining. After a Blue Raider turnover, Alexis Govan connected to cut it to a 55-48 game with still 3:12 to play. Kortni Jones - who score a game-high 25 points for MTSU - ended the run with a three, stretching the lead back out to 10 points. With time running down, the Lady Toppers were able to get as close as six on a Jasmine Johnson jumper with 21 seconds left, but Jones sealed the game with a pair of free throws to stretch the final margin to eight.
The Blue Raiders were hot from beyond the three-point arc in the first half, knocking down six three, and shooting 46.3 percent from long range.
After WKU grabbed the first basket of the game, the Blue Raiders scored 15 of the next 16 to storm out to a 15-3 lead on a Jones three at the 13:00 mark. The Lady Toppers trailed by double figured the rest of the half, but was able to use a small run to get the deficit down to 11 when a Govan jumper made it 29-18 with 1:48 to go before intermission. WKU trailed again by 11 late in the half after a pair of Ileana Johnson free throws made it 33-22, but the Raiders got the final basket of the half to stretch the lead to 35-22 at the break.
WKU connected on just seven field goals and shot 28 percent in the first half, compared to 40.6 percent shooting for MTSU.
The Lady Toppers shot 43.3 percent from the field after intermission, while limited the Blue Raiders to just 37 percent shooting and 2-for-12 from behind the arc in the final 20 minutes.
Fothergill's 18 points paced three Lady Toppers in double figures. Jasmine Johnson went 5-for-5 from the field, posting a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds in the final game of her career, while Govan finished with 10 points and eight boards. Jones paced MTSU with 25, with Ebony Rowe adding 12 points and nine boards.
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