Seniors Kayla Lowe and Mallory Schwab could not be more different.
Lowe, a forward, is known for her 3-point shooting. Schwab, a guard, is known for her shot blocking. But that works for them.
“I get the blocks and get the ball to her and she makes it,” Schwab said. “That’s our game plan. I just wish I had as much confidence as she does shooting those threes.”
Lowe credited Schwab’s athleticism and timing for her strong defensive skills.
“I look around all the time and see her diving down over tables,” Lowe said. “We’ve always been opposite roles but it’s neat how it clicks on the floor.”
The athletes, who started their freshman year as roommates, took to the hardwood at the CFSB Center for the final time Thursday night.
They played through the final buzzer, exiting the floor with a 91-67 loss to UT-Martin and 14 points to each of their names.
“Obviously it was not the result we wanted but I really wanted them to have the opportunity to decide whether they wanted to stay on the floor until the final horn or come out to some applause and they both wanted to stay on the floor; they wanted to be on the floor when the game ended,” said Head Coach Rob Cross.
The seniors tied for the second-best scorers for Murray State, with sophomore guard Erica Burgess leading the pack with 27 points. Lowe contributed four rebounds and two assists. Schwab tallied three rebounds and one block.
Junior guard Tessa Elkins led the team with nine rebounds, six of which were defensive.
It was, however, UT- Martin’s perimeter shooting that gave the Skyhawks an easy win. The team shot nearly 52 percent from behind the arch, better than their 46.7 overall shooting percentage from the field.
UT-Martin guard Heather Butler finished the night with 41 points, 18 of which came from behind the arch. Guard Jasmine Newsome added 24 points to the board for the Skyhawks.
The Skyhawks went on a 13-0 run toward the end of the first half, sinking three back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers. Cross said the team knew they had to step up defensive play, but the pressure resulted in mistakes.
“The kids are pressing and making a mental error here and there because your head starts spinning when somebody shoots threes like that,” Cross said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well enough. Against this Martin team you’ve got to shoot the ball well to have a chance against them.”
Cross said he is proud of the two seniors, the only athletes remaining from their original six-person freshman class. In their first year, Schwab and Lowe witnessed winning the program’s first regular season OVC title.
“I wish they could’ve won a couple more championships than the one they got,” he said. “But they’re walking away from Murray State with a degree in one hand and a championship ring on the other. And that’s the goal for our program for all of our seniors to graduate and get their degree and have at least one championship ring when they leave here.”
Lowe and Schwab took time after the game to revisit memories from their years together.
“There were times that we went though tough conditioning, tough preseason training, some tough years of losses where we weren’t winning very much, a rebuilding year after we won that championship, and we’ve really just stuck together through everything and we have so many great memories and we’ve grown up together,” Lowe said. “Through it all I think we’ve both grown as people and players and leaders.”
On a lighter note, Schwab described anxiety she had when she tried to contact Lowe after receiving her roommate assignment.
“I remember they gave me her number and I was supposed to call her and see what we had to get and everything,” Schwab said. “She wouldn’t return my phone calls or texts and I was like, ‘oh my god, she hates me.’”
Lowe interrupted with a laugh.
“I was in Europe for a month and she thought I was ignoring her the whole time,” she said.
Cross said the seniors have many opportunities awaiting them. Schwab will graduate on time with a degree in criminal justice and Lowe is finishing her master’s degree.
“It’s a little surreal we’ll never run out on our home floor again and see our favorite little old people that we’ve grown to love who come to every game,” Lowe said. “Knowing we’ll never play with those girls at home again is really sad. At least we played to the final minute and went hard. But this isn’t our last game – we got two more games left.”
The team will finish the season on the road against Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech before entering tournament play.