Racers start the OVC with two wins, drop against Jacksonville State
Story by Mark McFarland, Assistant Sports Editor
The Murray State women’s basketball team started off the conference season over break going 2-1 playing close games.
The Racers started off their conference schedule at home with games against Morehead State, where they won 83-79, Tennessee Tech, winning 56-50 and Jacksonville State, losing 71-74. Sophomore forward and guard Ke’Shunan James, finished the game with a double-double, scoring 32 points and 12 rebounds. Followed by senior forwards, Kyra Gulledge and Bianca Babic, scoring 14 points each, and Gulledge coming through with 13 rebounds to cap off her double-double, in the Morehead game. Murray State was able to put together a good second quarter outscoring the Golden Eagles 17-7. James again led the Racers with 19 points and was followed by junior guard LeAsia Wright with 15 points of her own. Jacksonville State was able to get the best of the Racers after the lead changed 11 times and was tied eight different times. James and Wright led the team in scoring for the second straight game with 26 and 18 points each respectively.
Murray State then traveled to Nashville, Tennessee to play Belmont and Tennessee State losing both games 87-61 and 69-58. Offensively, the Racers could not finish as James scored a combined 11 points in the two games, and the team shot 31 percent both games. Head coach Rob Cross said shooting 31 percent against Tennessee State, makes it tough to beat the defending conference champions.
“The energy on the defensive end is predicated on whether you’re making shots,” Cross said. “And that is really what happened.”
In both games the Racers got down quick as Belmont jumped out to an early 17-0 lead in the first quarter and Tennessee State scored the first 15 points of the game. Wright led the Racers against Belmont with 13 points and senior forward Jashae Lee led with 15 points at Tennessee State. Cross is happy with how his team was able to battle back from a 15-0 deficit to start the game.
“We need to play 40 minutes, we played 35 minutes against Tennessee State,” Cross said. “We did a nice job after the big deficit. We came back and took a lead at the end of the third quarter and it felt like we were fatigued and worn out.”
Murray State defensively has let its opponents score 1,146 points and have let them shoot 71.6 percent. The Racers have scored 1,080 while shooting 67.5 percent on the year. Cross has related the defensive issues to the offensive end not producing enough energy and not making the easy shots early.
“That second unit went in [Tennessee State] and did a really nice job playing with energy, got some baskets in transitions and made a couple of shots and we fed off that,” he said. “And then look at the stats sheet and you shoot 31 percent–that’s going to be awfully tough to win a game on the road. That has to be better, but that should not affect our defense like it did at the begging of the game.”
Murray State returns home for a conference game against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Saturday, Jan. 23. This will be the first game they have at home starting off the new semester. Cross said they are looking forward to getting back in front of the home crowd.