After a tightly clenched battle for the for the ball, the Racers tacked on to a five game winning streak against OVC rival Austin Peay Saturday at the CFSB Center.
Led by freshman guard Erika Sisk with 19 points, the 65-61 victory resulted in the first sweep against the Governors since the 2008-09 season.
“People look at (Austin Peay’s) conference record and expect to win but it’s a difficult team to play against,” Head Coach Rob Cross said. “Everything comes down to the wire. But it seemed like everybody gave us a lift. We got good things from everybody that came in the game.”
The Governors and Racers were both out of sync at the tipoff. Murray State turned over the ball three times within the first five minutes went 1-3 behind the free throw line. The doubled-sided scoring draught was broken by Austin Peay guard/forward Alexis Hardaway at the 18:23 mark.
Robinson quickly stepped in to convert in a deficit for the Racers with three three-point shots in the first half, shrinking an eight point lead to one. When not making shots on one side, she corralled 14 rebounds on the other, giving the Racers vital second chances to make plays.
“My shots just weren’t falling at first,” Robinson said. “But we needed it now and it was no time to be passive when we’re down or it’s just really close. If I just keep shooting, they have to fall in eventually.”
The Racer offense followed suit, with sophomore guard Keiona Kirby developing hot hands beyond the arc to put the Racers in the lead for the first time in the game. Junior guard Erica Burgess also got into the long-shot pattern with a three-pointer of her own, giving Murray State a 6-point lead coming off the court.
A stacked bench team contributed to 29 bench points against the Governors’ eight.
“We have good depth, and I felt like everybody did something right,” Cross said. “I felt like this was a game where everybody got a chance. Everybody should walk away feeling good to contribute to a conference win.”
Coming into the second half, the Racers were put under pressure with senior guard Tessa Elkins, sophomore forward/center Chanyere Hosey and junior forward Jessica Winfrey in foul trouble. Forced to keep their hands clean, Austin Peay took the opportunity to inch the game to a tie with a jumper by senior guard Leslie Martinez.
The surface battle continued for the lead, with both teams trading shots to grasp a one-point game after each possession. The pressure built for the Racers to heat up in the final ten minutes of the game at a 42-42 tie.
The score was stagnant, with both teams failing to establish any offensive momentum. Shooting for 35.4 percent, the Governors clumsily took it to the rim, availing from free throws made in the bonus where they went for 8-14.
Stepping back into a 3-point incentive similar to the first half, the Racers heated up with three back-to-back shots beyond the arc, putting the Governors in a tight spot to develop a run by more than just the line at the 2:13 mark.
Murray State blasted the final minutes with more 3-point action by Robinson, securing the win and leaving the Governors to trail with a 65-61 loss.
The Racers will tip off on Feb. 6 at 5 p.m. in New Orleans, La., against New Orleans.
Story by Carly Besser, Staff writer.