Racers look to break losing streak Saturday

Junior guard Erica Burgess, from Memphis, Tenn., prepares to shoot at the free throw line against Tennessee State. Burgess averages 67 percent at the line. || Taylor McStoots/The News
Junior guard Erica Burgess, from Memphis, Tenn., prepares to shoot at the free throw line against Tennessee State. Burgess averages 67 percent at the line. || Taylor McStoots/The News

Junior guard Erica Burgess, from Memphis, Tenn., prepares to shoot at the free throw line against Tennessee State. Burgess averages 67 percent at the line. || Taylor McStoots/The News

Murray State must adjust its three-game losing streak when they play rival UT Martin at home.

Recovering from a 79-68 loss in their second meeting with SIUE, Murray State will have to step up in order to maintain a strong position and place in an easier competition bracket come tournament time.

Despite past losses individual players have had incredible games.

In their first loss against Tennessee State, freshman guard Erika Sisk finished her game with a career-high 29 points while freshman forward Kelsey Dirks was just one board shy of a double-double.

“We just didn’t make enough plays in transition defense and gave up too many offensive rebounds down the stretch,” said Head Coach Rob Cross. Senior guard Mariah Robinson managed to score her 1,500th point against Eastern Illinois, coupled with 500 rebounds to set her deeper in Murray State athletic history. Despite the incredible individual performances, the Racers are having trouble winning.

The team wins when the boards are spread with contributions from all starters, and the team is not carried offensively by only one or two players. There is no better example than competing against UT Martin.

UT Martin is ranked second in the West division with Murray State behind in third. The Skyhawks currently sport an 8-5 conference record and 13-14 overall with a two-game winning streak.

Saturday marks the second meeting of UT Martin for the Racers this season, with the first game resulting in an 82-72 victory on the road. Senior guard Mariah Robinson led the Racers with a game-high 26 points, along with six rebounds, six assists and five steals.

She was not the only one to light up the boards for Murray State. Sisk scored 16 points and Kelsey Dirks recorded her second consecutive double-double. Senior guard Tessa Elkins put up 11 points of her own along with freshman forward Bianca Babic with 10.

Junior forward Jessica Winfrey contributed eight rebounds to the victory.

Coming into Saturday, sharp shooting and offensive rebounds will help the Racers go for a season sweep against the Skyhawks and pull them out of a three-game slump.

Sisk has put in work, being named the OVC Player of the Week after averaging 25 points.

The honor marked her first Player of the Week title, paired with six OVC Freshman of the Week titles.

“She would have rather had the team win both games than win the awards,” Cross said. “But I’m excited for her and the future of the program. Her best basketball is in front of her.”

Scoring a career-high 29 points in the loss against Tennessee State, Sisk was only one of two players to break double digits in scoring.

“I’m proud of myself for scoring 29 points,” Sisk said. “That’s big, but getting the win would have made it even better.”

Sisk’s dominating performances, paired with the scoring efforts of other guards, would give the Racers higher scoring games similar to six-game streak in January when Dirks and Babic recorded the highest-scoring nights of their careers.

Teamwork is the fundamental component for a strong Murray State team, and cohesion is needed to get a win over a tough UT Martin team.

The Racers will tip off against the Skyhawks Saturday at 2 p.m. at the CFSB Center.

Story courtesy of Carly Besser, Assistant Sports Editor.