Stepping onto the court of the CSFB Center, joined by their families with roses in hand, it was the final night the Murray State seniors would play at home in uniform.
Guards Mariah Robinson and Tessa Elkins and forwards Kyra Watson and Jessica Holder were honored Saturday for their contributions to the program, as it would be their last performance in Murray.
It was a bittersweet moment that was still difficult to process, Elkins said.
“The good news is, we’re moving on to the post season,” she said. “It’s the last time we’ll play in this gym. It’s not something that has quite sunk in yet. We might only have one game left.”
The attitude from the commemoration changed when the Racers fell to OVC rival Southeast Missouri by three points, leaving the Racers with an 8-8 regular season record.
All the seniors started against the Redhawks, but Holder was seated shortly after her first minutes of play to prevent further straining of her injuries. She missed more than two seasons due to injury and went through several surgeries, preventing her from seeing much time on the court. It was painful to walk out on her final game, she said.
“It hurts,” Holder said. “It’s something that’s going to take a lot of time for it to heal, and I think it’s going to make it happen a little faster if I’m not putting it through the stuff I’m putting it through. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, but when God closes one door he opens another. It’s not the end of the world.”
Forward Watson brought energy and momentum for the Racers Saturday when she scored 11 points and pulled down five rebounds. With little time to play left, she said she feels a sense of urgency to leave the program with a memorable performance.
“I feel like an animal,” Watson said. “I feel like I’ve been away for a long time so I owe it to my team to step up and be everything I can be for them.”
Robinson ended the performance against SEMO on a positive note. She led the Racers with 23 points and six rebounds, just four shy of a double-double. She was also awarded a certificate from Mayor Bill Wells for her hours of community service.
This season, Robinson reached many milestones in her athletic career by scoring more than 1,500 points and securing more than 500 rebounds.
She currently holds the program record for the most 3-point shots made in Murray State’s history.
Head Coach Rob Cross said he was disappointed to lose a game on Senior Night, but is proud to see the players grow as both athletes and representatives of Murray State.
“The good thing is they’re leaving the program better than they did their freshman year,” he said. “We have a winning record. They should feel good about leaving the program better than it was.”
While it feels like the end for the seniors, it will not be the last game they have to look forward to. Despite the loss to Southeast Missouri.
Even outside the court, Cross said he is glad to see how the seniors have improved as people. They will be inspiring and hard-working people after their careers at Murray State, he said.
“I’m incredibly proud of them,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of growth out of them and I know they’ll be successful in any endeavors they get into. ”
Story by Carly Besser, Assistant Sports Editor.