It was a night of missed opportunities for the Racers as they fell to Eastern Illinois 80-63 Monday night.
The game was only one of two losses at home for Murray State (8-13, 4-4).
“We played way too soft,” Head Coach Rob Cross said. “We played scared and you can’t be so timid against a championship caliber team.”
The Racers were led by senior forward/center Kayla Lowe with 32 points, three rebounds and a steal.
Starting lineup for the Racers were guards sophomore Erica Burgess, juniors Mariah Robinson and Tessa Elkins, Lowe and freshman forward Ashleigh McBean.
The Panthers dominated from the get-go, penetrating the Racer defense with forward Mariah King, who had a 3-0 run within the first three minutes of play.
Eastern Illinois kept at least a 10 point cushion through the first half.
Murray State flustered in the first half with a 26.5 field goal percentage, poor passes, dropped rebounds and 16-point trail.
“We didn’t start the game as aggressive as we should have been. We dug ourselves in a hole pretty early,” Lowe said. “We have to find a way to pull a 40 minute game together. We can’t just play good for 20 minutes and expect to beat good teams.”
McBean jumpstarted the Racers in the second half with an effortless field goal made within 1:30 of play. The 6-foot-3 guard currently leads the Racers in blocked shots with 13 total.
The crowd was revived when a dropped ball by the Panthers was retrieved and dunked by Burgess, a reminder of her aggressive playing style and consistent offensive presence.
The team came back recharged with more focus on the drive with improved passing accuracy and a 32.4 percent field goal percentage, which showed through a shrinking Panther lead from 23 points to nine with six minutes left in the game.
The final minutes were composed of Eastern Illinois regaining their offensive momentum and putting a close to the game with an 18-point win.
“If we played as aggressively as we did in the second half for the whole 40 minutes then we could have won,” Cross said. “You can’t sleepwalk through a half, and that’s basically what we did.”
The Racers’ next game is 5 p.m. tomorrow in Morehead, Ky. against Morehead State.