The Racers (9-7) were outscored by a second half dominant Belmont team Monday night at the CFSB Center, finishing the game with a 59-50 loss.
“You’ve got to give Belmont a lot of credit,” Head Coach Rob Cross said. “They were down double digits but still came back and won. They persevered, made plays and kind of flipped it around on us. It felt like Belmont won every 50-50 ball.”
Led by freshman guard Erika Sisk with 14 points and six steals, the Racers lost their offensive momentum in the second half with the Bruins digging out of a deficit and leaving the Racers behind in the last minutes.
“Erika was very productive and played well, but I left her in the game too long and she was fatigued down the stretch,” Cross said. “Tessa Elkins played 38 minutes, which is way too much for those two. There was some fatigue involved, but you can’t blame it all on that. If you shoot 25 percent from the field, you’re not going to win many ball games.”
Though Belmont scored the first four points less than two minutes into the game, Murray bounced back with a 3-point shot by Sisk.
Coming out strong in the first half, Murray State led by as much as six and went into the locker room up by four points and shooting 30 percent.
Despite a 3-point jumper by Sisk with just under 20 seconds in the second half, the Bruins took control of the game.
In an attempt to repress an aggressive offense in the paint, the Racers encountered foul trouble, putting Belmont at the free-throw line twice in one minute. The Bruins finished 20-22 at the free throw line, increasing chances of clenching the scoring struggle between the teams.
“We were aggressive and played hard,” Cross said. “We went after some things and got our hands on six balls that we didn’t come out with and they ended up with them. Sometimes it’s the way the ball bounces and other times it’s about putting yourself in the position to be fortunate enough to come up with it.”
Belmont regained its composure with a 3-point shot sunk by Jordan Coleman which started a 2-0 run by Belmont after a three minute scoring drought. A defensive attack followed against the Racers, forcing them to 14 turnovers and 21 percent field goal shooting.
With more depth in substitutions, Belmont kept stamina high and scored a total of 17 bench points to maintain a quick transitioning tempo.
After strategically changing offense beyond the arc with senior guards Mariah Robinson and Tessa Elkins, the Racers still couldn’t follow suit.
The game ended with a final score of 59-50. The Racers will see action at 5 p.m. Jan. 19 at the CFSB Center in their “Pink Out” game against SIU Edwardsville.
Story by Carly Besser, Staff writer