After one of the better offensive streaks of the season, the Racers managed to pull off their first conference win at home with a 68-81 victory over SIU Edwardsville.
Led by senior guard Mariah Robinson with 31 points and two assists, the Racers dominated offensively against a defensively aggressive Cougar team.
“We played well against a very talented SIU Edwardsville team,” Head Coach Rob Cross said. “I was happy to see (Robinson) play so well. This was an important night for her. Every player has their own job. Jessica Winfrey has to rebound the ball, Sisk has to put the ball in the basket and Mariah’s job is to get the ball in the basket as well.”
After four lead changes, Sisk and Robinson combined to ignite the first half, combining for 26 points with Sisk charging in the paint and Robinson getting assisted to sink shots beyond the arc.
Sisk put the first points on the board behind the line and continued to make quick plays, sprinting for the layup after a swift steal on the Cougar defense at the 12:30 minute mark.
Asserting a position below the net, the Racers kept a tight lead over the Cougars early in the first half with quick layups and strategic fouls to make it behind the line. With Murray State shooting 83.3 percent in free-throws, they kept the slight advantage.
Robinson sank a 3-point shot to extend the Racer lead to the double digits with six minutes left on the clock in the half. She went on to score six 3-point field goals by the end of the game.
“It was a relief (to see my shots going through),” Robinson said. “I’ve been in a slump in terms of my shots falling in. It was good for the team too, because this was our first conference win at home.”
A last second layup by Sisk jumpstarted the Racers in the second half with a comfortable eight-point lead, it was a game of catch-up for the Cougars as they attempted to keep Robinson’s sharp shooting under control.
Just 28 seconds in, junior forward Jessica Winfrey started the second half out with a layup to dig SIU Edwardsville deeper into a double digit deficit.
To keep pace with her successful first half, Robinson relentlessly tacked on another 3-point shot to put the Racers 12 points ahead. Frazzled to stop the offensive momentum so early, the Cougars committed two personal fouls within the first two minutes.
With even more 3-point play with Sisk, the Racers dominated the rest of the game and didn’t look back with depth in passing and offense. In the final 10 minutes, Murray State earned themselves a deep 19 point lead over the Cougars.
“I’ve been getting more comfortable shooting those shots,” Sisk said. “It was mostly about making better decisions and getting myself open in the corner.”
The Cougar offense dwindled as their top scorer, Jasmine Berry was benched with five fouls after giving Sisk an and-one call in the final five minutes. Berry finished with 19 points and nine rebounds.
With the odds in their favor and a position in the double bonus, the Racers finished the second half with an 81-68 victory over SIU Edwardsville.
The Racers will return to the court at 7 p.m. on Jan. 21 at the CFSB center against Eastern Illinois.
Story by Carly Besser, Staff writer