- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 2, 2011

MURFREESBORO, TENN. (AP) - Middle Tennessee basketball player Tina Steward was stabbed to death at her apartment close to campus and police have two people in custody and were searching a third, authorities said Wednesday night.

The 21-year-old Stewart had multiple wounds when authorities found her, Murfreesboro Police spokesman Kyle Evans said. Police had been called because of a disturbance, and Evans said officers took a man and a woman into custody outside the apartment before finding Stewart inside.

The junior guard from Memphis was taken to Middle Tennessee Medical Center and later was pronounced dead.

Evans said during a news conference at the hospital that police were searching for a third woman and that investigators were still trying to piece together what happened.

Middle Tennessee president Sidney McPhee, who spoke with Stewart’s father, said at the news conference that the entire university is grieving over the death of “a wonderful talented and vibrant young woman.” McPhee said Stewart had spent the past three Thanksgivings with his family because she could not return home for the holiday.

“The anguish I feel as a father and a president … but personally as a father with a daughter about the age of Tina cannot adequately be expressed with words,” McPhee said.

Counselors have been alerted to help on campus.

The Blue Raiders (23-6) are the No. 1 seed from the East and scheduled to start play in the Sun Belt Conference tournament Sunday against either Florida Atlantic or Arkansas State in Hot Springs, Ark. They are looking for a 14th trip to the NCAA tournament.

No statistics on Stewart’s season were immediately available because the school’s athletics website was down.

Athletic director Chris Massaro was emotional at the news conference.

“This is an unspeakable tragedy to one of our family members,” Massaro said. “Our biggest concern is with Tina and her family. The team is devastated, but we’ll work through this together … one step at a time.”

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