Women’s basketball look to extend streak against Southern Illinois

Carly Besser
Staff writer

 

The Racers are doing an undeniably good job of regaining footing with a four-game winning streak and a powerful offense that averages 68 points per game and 6-1 home record.

After its Monday win against Longwood, the team is gearing up to make it five in a row against the Southern Illinois Salukis.

The Racers are stacked with players like sophomore guard Erica Burgess, who averages 30.2 points per game with a 73 percent free throw shooting average. Burgess’ agility makes her a tough stop when she attacks the rim. Alongside Burgess, junior guard Mariah Robinson works beyond the perimeter, shooting 36 percent in three-point attempts and averaging 29.1 points per game.

The duo’s offensive intensity was displayed in the game against Longwood which marked the first time Murray State had two players to score 20 plus points in a game since 2010.

Free throws have also been a game changer for the team during the OVC season. Murray State averages 66 percent in free throw shooting and every point counts when it comes to close wins. Cross credits the increased free throw shooting percentages to good work ethic.

“We talked about free throw shooting in the non-conference season as something to work on,” Head Coach Rob Cross said. “But now we’re close to 80 percent; that’s really been a big difference. When you step to the line and make free throws it’s a completely different game.”

Murray State averages 15.9 turnovers per game and a negative rebounding margin, something that could hurt them Thursday night.

“We have had a lot of first halves where we have trouble turning it over,” Cross said. “But it changes over the second half when you get over 55 possessions. That’s great basketball.”

Southern Illinois will be challenging opponent, with a strong set of guards and a win against a tough Missouri State team and a close game against undefeated Wichita State.

“They’ve got guards that are going to put up big numbers and they shoot three’s extremely well as a team,” Cross said. “We’re going into a hostile environment. We have to play good defense and attack the rim to get to the free throw line.”

The Racers are taking a hit with junior guard Tessa Elkins out due to a leg injury. Elkins’ averages 26.6 points and seven rebounds per game.

“She provides a lot of toughness,” he said. “She’s always guarding the other team and we really have been missing her.”

Tipoff against Southern Illinois will be at 7:05 p.m. today in Carbondale, Ill.

Contact Besser.