Forty-three games, and still going.
Top-ranked Riverdale weathered a late charge by second-ranked Blackman on Friday night to remain unbeaten with a 55-42 win at Blackman in a battle of nationally-ranked Murfreesboro teams. The victory extended the Lady Warriors’ win streak to 43.
MTSU signee Tyisha Petty drained 6-of-6 free throws in the final 40.3 seconds to secure the win and hand the Lady Blaze, who are ranked ninth by MaxPreps, their first loss of the season. Riverdale is ranked second by ESPN Hoopgurlz and MaxPreps.
Blackman had trimmed a 21-point third-quarter lead to 49-40 with 1:03 left before Petty iced the game.
“I knew that I was the one that was going to have the ball, since I’m the point guard,” said Petty, who finished with a game-high 19points. “I had to step up and knock them down.”
Riverdale (20-0 overall, 5-0 in 7-AAA) is the lone unbeaten district team left at the midpoint of the conference season. Blackman’s gym, which seats 2,200, was near capacity. And fans watching from the doorway throughout the contest.
“The crowd was unbelievable,” Riverdale coach Cory Barrett said. “You wish every night could be like that as far as the crowd. Everybody from Murfreesboro and surrounding areas, we appreciate you coming. And I’m sure Blackman does with their ticket sales.
“I don’t know how many the gym holds, but it was near capacity.”
MTSU signee Olivia Jones’ second of back-to-back 3-pointers started a 12-0 Riverdale run to give the Lady Warriors control in the first half. Riverdale led 25-9 with 4:28 left in the first half after Alexa Middleton’s rebound bucket.
“I think our experience helped in that run,” Barrett said. “Then, their comeback was simply because they are so talented. They have a great team.”
The Lady Blaze (18-1, 3-1) were ice-cold from the field through much of the contest. Blackman finished the game 23 percent from the field on 13-of-57 shooting, but hit 15-of-17 from the free-throw line.
“We shot the ball poorly,” Blackman coach Chad Hibdon said. “It’s because they speed you up. I think for a lot of our girls, we’ve talked about it, we’ve shown them on film other girls rushing their shots, but really until you get out there and get your feet wet with the young team we have it’s that learning experience.”
Blackman ended the third quarter with a 9-0 run to trim Riverdale’s lead to 43-31 to give the Lady Blaze hope. Petty pushed the lead to 49-35 with 3:43 left on a layup with defender Micah Norris on her hip. That marked Riverdale’s final field goal of the game.
Jones had 14 points, and Middleton finished with 13. Jones left the game for a portion of the fourth quarter due to a cramp in her right hamstring. She played with her right knee taped after hyper extending it a week ago. She played furiously in the paint against Blackman’s bigger posts of Alex Johnson and Jazz Bond, finishing with eight rebounds.
“It was tough rebounding because of their height advantage,” Jones said. “I just had to keep fighting. When I started cramping, I knew when I came back in I’d have to play hard.”
Blackman freshman point guard Crystal Dangerfield also started to cramp in her right calf, but played through it. Dangerfield and Johnson led Blackman with 12 apiece.
Riverdale 55, Blackman 42
Riverdale 16 16 11 12 — 55
Blackman 9 9 13 11 — 42
Riverdale: Davenport 9, Petty 19, Middleton 13, Jones 14.
Blackman: Norris 5, Allen 7, Dangerfield 12, Johnson 12, Bond 6.