With two UT Martin junior guards in the 1000-point club, the Racers had a tough mission to hold off the offensive powerhouses.
Skyhawks guards Jasmine Newsome and Heather Butler double teamed to tally up a combined 49 points and left the Racers with their fourth straight conference loss Saturday.
“They had a great shooting first half but they were wide open shots,” said Head Coach Rob Cross. “They’re great shooters. We didn’t have the same intensity and focus than we did when we played them for the first time in Martin from a defensive standpoint … I think we were hesitant to score.”
Led by senior guard Mariah Robinson with 16 points, the Racers were slow at the gate, with the first points scored by junior forward Jessica Winfrey two minutes in the first half. A well-tuned zone defense executed by the Skyhawks pushed Murray State to score beyond the arc.
“UT Martin is a great shooting team and they’re even better when we leave them open,” Robinson said. “They shot really well and we made a few defensive errors that set us back a little bit.”
With a precise 3-point game, the Skyhawks dictated the first half with a solid 12-point lead with just seven minutes as Newsome, Butler and senior forward Shelby Crawford shot three back-to-back 3-point shots, inching the deficit deeper for the Racers.
Walking off at the buzzer down by 11 points, the Racers returned with the objective of picking up more offensive rebounds, opening up opportunity with second-chance shots.
Back-to-back shots by Robinson and senior guard Tessa Elkins introduced offensive energy for the Racers, pulling down boards on the offense and shrinking the lead to single digits.
Before the Racers could tie down an even shorter lead, Newsome returned to put up shots beyond the arc to revitalize the UT Martin offense similar to the first half.
The rest of the squad followed suit, with a 3-point shot sunk by freshman guard Katie Shubert to dominate the second stanza and put the Skyhawks up to a game high 18-point lead at the 12:16 mark.
The Racers would not go down without a fight with just two minutes left the game. Robinson lit up the boards with three consecutive 3-point shots to shrink the lead by 11 with 1:04 to go.
“Even though our shots weren’t falling, we still should have had the attack mentality like we did in the second half,” freshman guard Erika Sisk said. “We should have attacked more in the beginning like we did in the end. Our shots would have been falling if we attacked the zone.”
Before the Racers could claim the first lead of the game, the Skyhawks were sent to the line to close out the game with a 60-72 victory.
The Racers will tipoff next on Feb. 25 at 5 p.m. in Morehead, Ky., against Morehead State.