MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — Kseniya Malashka scored 12 of her 25 points in the fourth quarter to make sure Middle Tennessee State's first game as a ranked team in nine years wasn't an upset, leading the No. 23 Blue Raiders to a 63-48 win over Florida Atlantic on Thursday night.
MTSU (17-2, 10-0 Conference USA) ran its winning streak to 15 games but the Owls (11-8, 4-6) made it interesting with a third-quarter run after the Blue Raiders dominated the first half.
Malashka, a senior transfer from VCU, scored MTSU's first 12 points of the fourth quarter to keep the lead in double figures. She made three layups, one of them converted to a three-point play, for a 7-0 run that had the lead at 61-43 with 2 1/2 minutes to play.
Savannah Wheeler had all 16 of her points in the first half for MTSU, which was last ranked in the 2013-14 season.
Joiya Maddox led Florida Atlantic with 14 points and Amber Gaston had 10. The Owls have lost 24 straight in the series, which MTSU leads 30-1.
Florida Atlantic made a run in the third quarter, making 10 of 15 shots while the Blue Raiders were 2 of 12, cutting a 26-point deficit to eight. With runs of 8-0 and 9-0, when Gaston made a layup with 48 seconds left in the quarter the score was 45-37. MTSU made four free throws after that to take a 12-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Wheeler opened the game with a 3-pointer and had 11 points in the first quarter as MTSU raced to a 22-7 lead. Florida Atlantic was 2 of 12 in the first quarter and 3 of 12 in the second and trailed 38-14 at the half. Wheeler had 16 points for the Blue Raiders, who shot 40% and forced 13 turnovers.
Florida International is at MTSU on Saturday.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25