It is a true underdog story.
The women’s basketball team pulled through a teeth-clenching, lead-changing game to tack on a 86-77 win Monday night at the CFSB Center against first-time opponent Longwood University.
Starters for Murray State included guards senior Mallory Schwab, sophomore Erica Burgess, junior Mariah Robinson, senior forward/center Kayla Lowe, and freshman forward Ashleigh McBean.
The win, led by Burgess with a mindblowing 33 points and eight rebounds put the Racers at a 4 game winning streak.
The Racers took a defensive hit with its rebounding powerhouse, junior guard Tessa Elkins out with an injury.
“We’ve been playing more as a team,” Burgess said. “We’ve needed to pick up the slack with Tessa out, so we needed more rebounds and more aggressiveness.”
Under the instruction of Head Coach Rob Cross, the Racers played a high-tempo game with depth in substitutions, with the first sub being made just 1:30 into the game.
The Racers’ three-point accuracy suffered severely at first, but warmed up quickly by the end of the second half thanks to five made by Robinson.
The first half was chalk full of back and forth layup shots by Lowe and Robinson, who led the team with four field goals each. Both teams were offensively impressive with Murray State shooting 48.4 percent and Longwood shooting 50 percent.
Longwood gave the Racers a run for their money by lockdown defense with guard Erin Neal, who earned three of Longwood’s six steals.
“We need to work on playing with more defensive intensity,” Cross said. “Not to be so scared and to get in the flow.”
The offensive struggle bled into the second half with Murray State being put in the bonus primarily by Longwood guard Meika Elkington, who racked up four of the teams eight.
After staying in an average 10 point deficit, the Lancers gave a final fight in the last minute with a full court press, but finished to no avail as Murray State took the win.
The team’s next game will be at 7:05 p.m. on Jan. 26 in Carbondale, Ill., against Eastern Illinois University.