The Racers took it slow and steady with an early two-point lead against Western Kentucky University Saturday night at the CFSB Center. The Hilltoppers then stole the lead with two consecutive three-pointers before the Racers got the ball rolling after the first media timeout.
Forcing seven turnovers less than eight minutes into the game, the Racers wouldn’t let up and the Hilltoppers struggled to put points on the board while Murray State went 50 percent from the three point line.
The stands were full and the fans were rowdy as the first half drew to a close with the Racers leading 49-32.
The Racers fell out of sync early in the second half as Western Kentucky cut the lead to just 10 points with under 14 minutes to play.
Murray State struggled with a field goal percentage of 33.3 less than ten minutes in, as opposed to their 56.3 field goal percentage at the end of the first half.
The Hilltoppers continued to lessen the score gap, but the Racers didn’t let up either as both teams alternated scoring. A Racer turnover followed by a foul provided Western Kentucky with an opportunity to cut the lead to just one bucket, but their shooter went zero-for-two from the line.
A free throw by sophomore point guard Cameron Payne followed by a three from senior guard T.J. Sapp increased the Racers’ lead to eight with just under five minutes to play. The CFSB Center erupted in noise as Racer fans heckled the referees and Hilltopper players alike.
Sapp sunk another three before the Hilltoppers put up another bucket. The Racers led 81-73 as a timeout was called with just 3:28 left on the clock.
Both teams entered the double bonus as foul trouble elongated the last two minutes of the game.
The Racers let the clock run down before leaving the court with a 93-81 victory over Western Kentucky as the final buzzer sounded.
Story by Mallory Tucker