Rough start for Women’s Basketball

Kalli Bubb/The News Freshman forward and guard Ke’Shunan James dribbles down the court, with three Lady Tigers following.
Kalli Bubb/The News Freshman forward and guard Ke’Shunan James dribbles down the court, with three Lady Tigers following.

Kalli Bubb/The News
Freshman forward and guard Ke’Shunan James dribbles down the court, with three Lady Tigers following.

Four games into the conference schedule and women’s basketball has yet to secure a win after falling 76-72 to Tennessee State on Thursday.

“We have a philosophy,” said Head Coach Rob Cross. “If there is a player between you and the basket, you have to attack that player and beat that player to get to the rim.”

The Racers (5-12, 0-4) struggled early to break through the Lady Tigers’ defense, settling instead for outside shots, many of which missed the mark. They shot 20 percent from behind the three-point line in the first half. They fared better in the second half, shooting 6-11 from behind the arc led by senior guard Keiona Kirby, who hit four of her nine three-point shots. 

The Racers so far are winless on the road but had played better at home until Thursday. Tennessee State (6-9, 3-1) controlled the game early, then hit free throws in the final minute to seal a win.

Kalli Bubb/The News Freshman guard Olivia Cunningham goes against Lady Tiger defense Thursday night at the CFSB Center.

Kalli Bubb/The News
Freshman guard Olivia Cunningham goes against Lady Tiger defense Thursday night at the CFSB Center.

Despite trading leads with the Lady Tigers through most of the second half, Cross said it was hard to make up for the difference in rebounds. Tennessee State had more than twice as many second chances as the Racers with 29 offensive boards compared to Murray State’s 12.

“Rebounding is what we need to work on,” Cross said. “I felt bad for our players because we did everything else right and it’s been like this at all four of the conference games.”

The Racers started the OVC season with a three game losses on the road, making them 0-8 away from CFSB Center. Despite the losing record, Cross said he can’t harp on the negativity.

“We’re just concerned about getting another possession,” Cross said. “I feel good about where we are, but we’re struggling trying to find that extra one or two possessions at the end of the games.”

Kalli Bubb/The News Above: Freshman guard Olivia Cunningham and senior forward Chanyere Hosey defend against Tennessee State players.

Kalli Bubb/The News
Above: Freshman guard Olivia Cunningham and senior forward Chanyere Hosey defend against Tennessee State players.

Still, Cross said he saw improvement in energy in the last minutes of the game. The players, though, aren’t satisfied.

“We can’t have the same results we’ve been having,” said freshman guard, Olivia Cunningham. “We can’t start out slow in games. We have to have energy during the whole game. If we come out with energy and don’t turn it over we’ll do better.”

Since the start of the conference season, the Racers (0-3) have traveled to Morehead State (2-1), Tennessee Tech (2-2) and Jacksonville State (2-2), losing to each by five points or fewer.

Cross said a lot of the younger players are still learning how to make on-court decisions. He said with experience they will learn, but he is looking for veteran players to step up and lead.

Freshman forward and guard Ke’Shunan James said losing only amplifies the challenge awaiting in the next game against Belmont at 5 p.m. tomorrow.

“We’ve got the team to win,” James said. “To do it we just have to work. We have the good scores. We’re hungry for a win at this point. The next team has to look out because we’re going to be on it.”

Story by Kelsey Randolph, Assistant Sports Editor