- Associated Press - Sunday, March 6, 2011

HOT SPRINGS, ARK. (AP) - Middle Tennessee’s players sat on the bench, heads down and arms locked during a pregame moment of silence at the Sun Belt Tournament on Sunday.

The game was the first for the Blue Raiders since the stabbing death of teammate Tina Stewart on Wednesday. Memories of Stewart abounded before Middle Tennessee’s second-round matchup against Arkansas State.

The Blue Raiders took the court for warmups in black T-shirts with “2ogether” on the front and “Stewart” on the back of each. They also each wore purple hair ribbons because that was Stewart’s favorite color.

Once the game started, the royal blue and white Middle Tennessee uniforms also carried a remembrance of Stewart as a black patch with her No. 20 on it.

The Blue Raiders (23-6) began the tournament after receiving a first-round bye for earning the No. 1 seed from the conference’s East Division.

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