Women’s basketball sees OVC Tournament, first time since 2013
Story by Mark McFarland, Assistant Sports Editor
Murray State’s women’s basketball team came away with the biggest upset in OVC Tournament history last week. The Racers made the tournament as an eighth seed and drew the first seed UT Martin in their first game. They fought back and forth and came away with the 76-78 win to move on to the OVC semifinals.
The Racers played UT Martin twice during the regular season and lost by a combined 51 points. After the win, Head Coach Rob Cross said he could not be more proud of how the team was able to battle throughout the game.
“I thought we made great decisions early against their press,” Cross said. “We got great looks in transition. The game plan was to take great shots and not forcing anything, and really the entire first half we moved the basketball, we made the extra pass and passed up good shots to take great shots.”
UT Martin’s Head Coach Kevin McMillan said he was impressed with how Murray State fought the entire game and that it did not seem the Racers deserved to be seeded eighth.
“It was a game where if Murray shoots it well they have a chance to win it, and they shot it well,” McMillan said after his team’s loss. “We played them twice during the season, and they didn’t shoot that good either time. We weren’t able to disrupt them like we were able to the first two times.”
Despite the effort in the UT Martin game, the Racers were unable to continue their season as they lost to No. 5 Eastern Kentucky 63-52. Senior forward Bianca Babic ended her career on a high note in front of her family from Australia by delivering 13 points in the losing effort.
“I would have preferred to win,” Babic said after the loss to Eastern Kentucky. “It was good to be out there again for one last time, but I would have preferred to be there tomorrow. But the best thing about this whole week has been that nobody picked us to be here at this point.”
Sophomore forward and guard Ke’Shunan James said she is excited about next year and the team they have coming back.
“I feel like next year we are going to be a lot tougher team,” James said after the loss to Eastern Kentucky. “I think people see that we can get here, that we can fight and that we can beat the No. 1 seed in the conference, and we did it. I feel like next year it’s going to be a lot tougher to beat us and stay in games with us.”
The Racers are losing four seniors. Ajee Smith, guard from Raleigh, North Carolina, Kyra Gulledge, forward from Olive Branch, Mississippi, Babic, forward from Melbourne, Australia, and Jashae Lee, forward and guard from Rialto, California.
Cross said the seniors will be leaving the program in a better place than when they first got to Murray State.
The Racers finished their season with a 12-17 record but came away with one of the most memorable wins in school history.