After finishing with their best non-conference record since the 2007-08 season, the Racers are drawing closer to the OVC tournament in Nashville, Tenn.
In their final non-conference game against the New Orleans, Murray State added to a six-game winning streak when they defeated the Privateers 69-56.
It was a night of personal bests when senior guard Mariah Robinson earned her second double-double of the season with a game-high 21 points.
Freshman guard Erika Sisk also lit up the boards with 21 points of her own.
Head Coach Rob Cross said junior guard Erica Burgess also stepped up when she led the bench with 10 points.
However, the Racers could not add one more victory to their season-high win streak, they faced a loss (67-61) against OVC East rival Tennessee State, who dominated down the stretch in offensive rebounding and scoring in the paint.
“I’m not sure exactly what we were trying to accomplish, but it certainly wasn’t transition defense the way we taught it or what we’re looking for,” Cross said. “You need to stick with what got you there.”
Cross said the loss was a tough one because it is a reflection of what needs to change.
Murray State was consistent early in the season with double digit offensive rebound statistics and averaging over 70 percent in free throws.
In their last game against Tennessee State, the Racers went 1-5 behind the line, allowing the Tigers to extend a lead early in the half.
The Tigers also topped the Racers in offensive rebounds 19-14, an area where Cross said the team needs to desperately improve if they want to maintain a strong spot in the tournament.
Against teams like Austin Peay, Jacksonville State and New Orleans, Racer scoring was spread across the board. Nearly every player contributing in the wins.
In the loss against Tennessee State, Sisk had a season-high scoring night with 29 points, three assists and five rebounds. She was one of four other players to score in the first half. “The one thing that I love is having your teammates there to comfort you instead of downing you,” Sisk said. “They really pick you up.”
To ensure a consistent offense and steady defense in Nashville, Tenn., the team’s upperclassmen will need to be there to assist the freshmen, Cross said.
“The upperclassmen didn’t get the job done,” Cross said. “But we’ve got another opportunity this Saturday.”
The Racers will continue conference play Feb. 16 at 4 p.m. at the CFSB Center against Eastern Illinois.
Story by Carly Besser, Staff writer.