Lightning struck twice for the Racers last night in Nashville.
The 87-83 win marked the second victory for the team against the Tennessee State Tigers this season; their first in the Gentry Center.
“They played with a lot of energy this game,” senior guard Mallory Schwab said. “Every win they get is also one step closer to the tournament for them, so they have something to fight for.”
Led by red-shirt sophomore guard Erica Burgess with 27 points, Murray State (12-16, 8-7 Ohio Valley Conference) came out of a battle of the offenses, with the lead changing 15 times.
“I knew we had our work cut out for us,” junior guard Mariah Robinson said. “So I knew we had to rebound, because we haven’t been shooting very well as a team lately.”
In addition to Burgess and Schwab, starters for Murray State included junior guard Tessa Elkins, senior forward Kayla Lowe and junior forward Kyra Watson.
A long field goal by Tennessee State’s Alana Morris set the tone for an aggressively fast tempo in the first half.
After shooting 44 percent beyond the perimeter, the Racers changed to a tactic of keeping Burgess close to the rim to drive past a sluggish defense. She finished the half with 12 points and a rebound.
“We kind of were slow in the first half with turnovers,” Head Coach Rob Cross said. “But our free throw percentages were good and we made good plays beyond the stretch. That’s why we came out on top.”
The hustle made for error on both sides of the court.
The Racers finished the first half with a 41-40 lead. The Tigers were close behind and in foul trouble, with Morris finishing the first half with three.
With Murray State leading the second half with up to a 10-point cushion, it was a game of catch up for the Tigers, who took the lead back with 10 minutes left in the game.
Burgess kept the Racers alive, continuing to stack up points in the paint while Lowe did work beyond the arch on a 6-2 run.
After three lead changes in one minute, the Racers worked to regain their composure once again with a layup by Elkins.
The game ended with a final trip to the line by Schwab. With both attempts made, the 87-83 win was handed to Murray State.
“I think I put too much pressure on myself,” Schwab said. “I just needed to breathe, relax and have fun like I usually do. So I got those two shots. “
The next and final regular season game for the Racers is against Tennessee Tech at 5:30 p.m. in Cookeville.
The Racers claimed a 76-72 victory over the Gold Eagles at the CFSB Center last month.