Story by Blake Sandlin, Staff writer
Junior guard Bria Bethea and senior forward Kyra Gulledge’s double-double performances helped lead Murray State’s women’s basketball team (15-11) past Eastern Illinois (8-18) claiming a 66-57 victory.
The Racers won their third straight game to improve to 15-11 on the year with postseason play drawing nearer. The Racers had a nine rebound edge over the Panthers, grabbing 48 boards to their 39. The team also had 26 of their 66 points in the paint, a statistic that Murray State Head Coach Rob Cross was especially proud of.
“When you beat somebody points in the paint and they played a zone the entire game, then you know you’re doing something pretty good,” Cross said.
Bethea, who came off a 19-point performance in a win against Austin Peay, led all scorers with 22 points and 10 rebounds, hitting four threes. Cross complemented Bethea’s shooting ability as of late.
“She’s playing really well,” Cross said. “You know, she scores the basketball in a variety of ways. She can shoot it, she’s over 39 percent from the three on the season now.”
Gulledge’s 10 points and 11 rebounds gave the Racers their second double-double performance on Wednesday night. Junior forward Ke’Shunan James, who came into the game averaging 19.9 points, scored only five points but added 13 rebounds.
Cross said that although James was a target for Eastern Illinois’ defense, it opened the door for other players to step up.
“You know, with our team we have a lot of weapons, we have a lot of people that can score the basketball,” Cross said. “You know, they chose to play a certain way and we were able to take advantage of it in the second half.”
For Eastern Illinois, senior forward Erica Brown had 23 points and 14 rebounds. Junior guard Grace Lennox added 18 points and eight rebounds in the Panther’s loss.
Murray State’s win lifts them above .500 in OVC play at 7-6. The Racers are currently sharing third place with Tennessee Tech in the conference standings. The Racers still have time to claim sole possession of third place with three more games left on their regular season schedule.
The team’s next and final home game will tip-off at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18 at the CFSB Center against Southeast Missouri State (12-14), who currently sits at sixth place in the conference standings.