Women fall short in early-season matchup

Junior forward Jessica Winfrey shoots over Indiana forward Aulani Sinclair. Winfrey scored 4 points and seven rebounds. || Michelle Grimaud/The News

Junior forward Jessica Winfrey shoots over Indiana forward Aulani Sinclair. Winfrey scored 4 points and seven rebounds. || Michelle Grimaud/The News

The women’s basketball team played a nearly shot-for-shot game, however Indiana struck in the final seconds of the game. The Hoosiers seized the win from the Racers 63-62.

The Racers established the short but powerful lead midway in the first half. A footrace established a quick tempo with a rebound and turnover by Robinson in the first 30 seconds. Scores stayed low and fouls high for both teams, with Murray State shooting 31.4 percent from the field, Indiana with 28.9 percent in the first half.

A three-minute scoring drought was broken by back-to-back jumpers and a 3-point shot made by Robinson, who led the first half with nine points. Dirks ran the defensive side of the court, finishing the game with eight rebounds and three blocks, giving Murray State protection with her 6’3 frame.

“Kelsey was working really hard in the first half for post position,” Head Coach Rob Cross said. “We just didn’t get the ball to her.”

The Hoosier defense tried to stop the scoring stampede, drawing six fouls in the first 10 minutes and giving the Racers trips to the line where they averaged 80 percent. The two minutes of dominance were short lived after Indiana regained stability with forward Aulani Sinclair chipping in 14 points and two rebounds.

“We overran the ball a little bit,” Cross said. “Got a little too aggressive on the back court and we were supposed to stay solid.”

After losing the lead to Hoosier guards Jasmine McGhee and Sinclair, who scored 25 of Indiana’s 34 points of the half, the Racers had trouble maintaining consistent scoring and avoiding costly penalties. Exhausted, Indiana extended the lead by six points by the end of the first half.

The start of the second half was a sluggish one for Indiana, with two turnovers in one minute and ample opportunity for Burgess to penetrate a slowed defense and lay it up for the first points on the board. The powerful drives did not stay consistent for the Racers though, and they once again allowed Sinclair to extend the Indiana lead by 10 points with 13:30 left in the second half.

In her first shot attempts of the game, Racer guard Keiona Kirby made back-to-back 3-point shots followed by a jumper and recharged the Racers’ aggressive full court press and sparked a scoring drive by Murray State. Assisted by Robinson, the deficit shrank to four points and the pressure was on for the Racers to change the outcome with just two minutes left.

One by one, the leading Hoosier scorers took a seat on the bench as they fouled out and the lead shrank to just three points with 30 seconds left in the game. Kirby took her free throw shots, inching the deficit to only two.

“(Cross) always tells me that I always need to be ready,” Kirby said. “So when I get that chance, I need to produce.”

Robinson sank a final 3-point shot with just 11 seconds left during the game, giving the Racers a one point lead. After a final layup by Indiana center Sasha Chaplin, the Racers were down by one with 3.2 seconds left. Robinson missed the final shot of the game, handing the Racers a 62-63 defeat.

“I knew we still had an opportunity,” Robinson said. “(Cross) gave us a good play for a scoring opportunity and honestly, we didn’t lose on that possession.”

Their next game will be at 6 p.m. on Nov. 12 against James Madison in Harrisonburg, Va.

Story by Carly Besser, Staff writer.