The two teams exchanged the lead six times in the first half, but Tennessee State used a late run to build a halftime lead the Racers couldn’t overcome.
“(Tennessee State) went on a 9-0 run to end the first half and we missed six free throws,” Head Coach Rob Cross said. “That let it go from a one possession game to an 11-point game, and the game opened up.”
The Racers rallied in the second half but could not convert on key plays in the final minutes of the game. While the Racers shot 50 percent from the field, other aspects of the game weren’t as positive.
“You can’t shoot 56 percent from the free throw line when you are shorthanded, and you can’t give up 19 offensive rebounds,” Cross said.
Senior forward Jessica Winfrey said the poor free throw shooting was due to mental problems, not the long break between games.
“It seemed to be a mental thing and we just couldn’t hit (free throws) when we needed to,” Winfrey said.
While this season has not measured up to what the lone senior had planned, she said she is still trying to keep the team positive as the season continues.
“As a team we have to accept things and keep being positive and play hard,” Winfrey said. “I try to tell them that things will be OK and everything happens for a reason.”
The Racers now return home for a key stretch of games that will test the team.
While the Racers are 1-9 in conference play, Cross said he believes his team still has an opportunity to make the conference tournament if the Racers can end the streak Saturday.
“If we win all our home games and then split on the road, then maybe we could get there,” Cross said.
The Racers look to end the streak when they host Eastern Illinois at 5:15 p.m. Saturday.
Story by Tom Via, Staff writer
Inside the loss: Lack of depth causes problems
At the beginning of the season, the biggest challenge for women’s basketball was a lack of experience.
Now Head Coach Rob Cross faces a new problem. After opening the season with 12 players, the Racers are down to eight.
The latest injury came two weeks ago when freshman guard Julia Fox became the second guard out for the season with a knee surgery. With only three guards available to play, Cross has had to make major adjustments.
The adjustments for the Racers have led to unique lineups to help the coaching staff manage their players’ fatigue.
With five of the eight players on the roster listed as forwards, the change to a slower offense will allow the Racers to work from inside the paint.
Being listed as a forward doesn’t limit the chance to make a 3-pointer, though.
Sophomore forward Bianca Babic has scored 25 3’s this season while sophomore guard Jashae Lee has scored 10 from behind the arc.
With the majority of the team as forwards, Cross said he had to tell his guards the team could not afford for them to take breaks.
With no time for rest, the guards will have to slow the pace of the games from now on.