Alysha Clark is taking her high-scoring act to the NCAA tournament _ and bringing a few sharp shooters with her.
Clark scored 17 of her 23 points in the second half, and Middle Tennessee beat Arkansas-Little Rock 74-54 Tuesday for its fifth Sun Belt tournament championship in six years.
Clark, the nation's leading scorer, was held under 30 points for the first time in 11 games, but she had 10 rebounds and six assists as part of a balanced effort by the Blue Raiders.
Brandi Brown scored 24 points for Middle Tennessee, and Chelsia Lymon added 16 points, seven assists and six rebounds. Middle Tennessee (28-5) shot 10-of-20 from 3-point range, including 6-of-9 during a first half in which Clark was held largely in check.
"I just kicked out to them and they were knocking shots down," Clark said. "I'm going to keep feeding them when they do that."
The Blue Raiders earned their 12th NCAA tournament bid after missing the field a year ago.
Clark, the Sun Belt tournament's most outstanding player, is averaging 27.3 points. The 5-foot-10 forward set up for much of the game in the low post, where she's capable of scoring with moves toward either hand. She can also beat defenders off the dribble, but UALR didn't allow her much room to do that.
UALR had to play two overtimes in a semifinal against Denver, and the Trojans appeared a step slow defensively early on. Middle Tennessee led by 11 points in the first half, but UALR closed within two before Anne Marie Lanning's 3-pointer made it 34-29 at halftime.
Clark was held to six points in the half. She headed to the locker room at around the midway point of the half to have her ankle retaped and missed about 6 minutes.
The Blue Raiders held UALR at bay thanks to their excellent outside shooting. Brown made four 3-pointers in the half and entered intermission with 16 points.
"We tried to take away Clark a little bit," UALR coach Joe Foley said. "Brandi Brown knew what she needed to do."
Clark went to work early in the second half, scoring eight quick points while her teammates added three more 3-pointers. Suddenly the lead was back to double digits at 51-41.
"They're very unselfish," Middle Tennessee coach Rick Insell said. "Alysha Clark could have cared less if she got any points out there today."
Middle Tennessee shot 58 percent from the field. Clark, Brown and Lymon combined to go 24-of-33.
"I'm just proud of my team," Lymon said. "That was a team win out there _ all around."
Clark and Brown led a 12-0 charge that made it 67-47 and put the game out of reach.
Insell earned his 100th career win.
Chastity Reed led UALR (26-6) with 18 points and didn't want to use the team's double-overtime semifinal as an excuse.
"I fouled out the first overtime, so it's not like it exerted my body," Reed said. "We weren't thinking about that."
The Trojans are looking at a second straight trip to the Women's National Invitation Tournament, where they lost to Southern Mississippi in their first game last year.
Middle Tennessee lost only once in conference play all season. The Blue Raiders beat UALR 67-62 in overtime in January.
Middle Tennessee's nonconference schedule included a win at LSU in November, which should serve as a warning to whichever team the Blue Raiders play in the NCAA first round.
"A lot of teams try and turn it on in March," Clark said. "We've had it on since early November."
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