- Associated Press - Sunday, March 13, 2016

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Rick Insell was enjoying the game so much he almost forgot to coach.

It didn’t matter.

Brea Edwards scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as Middle Tennessee rolled into the NCAA Tournament with a 70-54 victory over Old Dominion on Saturday night in the Conference USA Tournament championship.

“Sometimes I get caught up in watching them play, instead of coaching them,” Insell said. “They are such a joy to watch, and a lot of people didn’t give us the credit we deserved.”

The second-seeded Blue Raiders (24-8) have won six straight and 15 of their last 16 games, and the conference championship in two of the last three seasons.

Ty Petty, the tournament MVP, led Middle Tennessee with 19 points and seven assists. Gabby Lyon had 13 rebounds and chipped in six points. Abbey Sissom made three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points.

“No matter who we play, we aren’t going to change” Insell said. “We are a little bit banged up … but they played through it tonight.”

Jennie Simms had 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists for No. 5 seed Old Dominion (17-17), which played in its first C-USA conference championship. Ije Ajemba added nine points and 10 rebounds.

The Blue Raiders pulled away in the second quarter, with Petty scoring seven points during a 12-0 run to stretch the lead to 32-15, and Middle Tennessee had a double-digit lead the rest of the way.

Middle Tennessee shot 48 percent from the floor on 14-of-29 shooting, while the Lady Monarchs were held to just 28 percent shooting (8 of 29) in the first half.

Old Dominion pulled to 37-28 midway through the third quarter. The Blue Raiders answered with a 17-9 run to stretch their lead to 54-37 with 7:26 remaining.



Old Dominion: Simms was 6 of 24 from the field, including 0 of 7 from long range. Gianna Smith scored eight points on 2-of-12 shooting. … The Monarchs missed all 11 3-point attempts in the second half.

Middle Tennessee: Brea Edwards earned a spot on the all-tournament team. … It was the ninth tournament championship appearance in 11 years under coach Rick Insell. … Held the Lady Monarchs scoreless for 3:29 in the first quarter. … Caroline Warden scored three points and played just seven minutes.


Old Dominion season is over.

Middle Tennessee leads opponent and destination for NCAA Tournament on Monday.

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