Story by Sarah Combs, staff writer
The Murray State Women’s Basketball team hosted UT Martin for their senior night on Saturday in the CFSB center. The Racers lost to the Skyhawks, 79-49.
The Skyhawks won the tip and junior guard Jessy Ward logged the first 3-pointer of the night. The Racers held on in the first quarter swapping baskets and leading the game by 3pts with 7:41 left in the first quarter.
UT Martin hit a few key threes that shifted the momentum in their favor and bumped the lead up to 16 points with 2:03 in the first quarter. The Skyhawks average 40 percent from behind the arc and looked to the pick and roll for their offensive game plan. The Racers couldn’t defend the Skyhawks from behind the arc, losing the 3-point shooter on the switch. Head Coach Rob Cross said the goal was to switch hard.
“We were supposed to be switching up aggressively,” Cross said. “Our players just didn’t get there.”
The momentum seemed to change for the Racers when Sophomore forward Shy Copney from UTM received a technical foul. Wright hit both free throws for Murray but the Racers couldn’t recover. Cross said the team had some late life in the game.
Points off turnovers and second chance points led the momentum of the game for the Skyhawks. The Racers gave up 18 points in the paint, nine offensive rebounds that led to five second chance points. UT Martin converted 21 points off turnovers.
“We have to be better than that,” Cross said. “We’ve been better than that the last few weeks.”
UT Martin led the board in scoring, shooting 39.1 percent from the floor, 37.5 percent from the three and 100 percent from the free throw line. The Racers matched with 32.5 from the three but trailed with 27.1 from the floor and 66.7 from the free throw line.
Both teams opened the game playing man with UT Martin extending to a full court press but the Skyhawks transitioned to a 1-3-1 in the second quarter and the Racers failed to respond.
UT Martin’s Ward shot 7-15 from behind the arc leading the team for the night with 21 points.
Murray State junior guard LeAsia Wright led the Racers with 16 points. Clocking 34 minutes, Wright shot 4-10 from the field, 4-9 from the arc and 4-4 from the free throw line.
The bench play remained even throughout the game. Murray State bench finished with 14 and Skyhawks with 13.
Four seniors wrapped up the regular season with their last home game in the CFSB Center. Ajee Smith from Raleigh, North Carolina, Kyra Gulledge from Olive Branch, Mississippi, Bianca Babic from Melbourne, Australia and Jashae Lee from Rialto, California.
Despite the loss, Murray State sits No. 8 and will play the Skyhawks again this coming week in the first round of the OVC tournament. Tip off is at 12 p.m. Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee.