Women’s basketball sets its sights on OVC rival Austin Peay

Bryan Edwards/The News

Story by Gage Johnson, staff writer

The Racers will look to bounce back from two straight losses when they take on Austin Peay on Thursday and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Saturday.

Murray State comes into this week having lost 80-70 at the hands of SEMO and 87-65 to UT Martin on the road last week. They will return home for the first of two games this week, coming in at 8-15 overall and 4-8 in conference play.  In order to make the tournament, the two games this week are crucial for the Racers.

“Well, every game is big for us right now,” Head Coach Rechelle Turner said. “We’re just trying to claw our way to the tournament somehow, some way.  Each game is important, and we’ve still got to try and figure out a way to win.”

Their first matchup will be against OVC-rival Austin Peay. This will be the seventh event in the Battle of the Border competition between the two. They are currently tied at nine points. Austin Peay has defeated Murray State in football, volleyball and men’s cross country. Murray State has defeated Austin Peay in volleyball, women’s cross country and soccer. The team with the most points at the end of the school year will win the Heritage Bank Battle of the Border traveling trophy.

The Governors come in at 13-10 overall and 6-6 in OVC play after defeating SEMO on the road 61-50 on Saturday Feb. 3. Austin Peay averages a shooting percentage of 39.9 percent, while opponents convert 42.3 percent of field goals against them. They are a balanced team in terms of scoring, with only one player averaging double figures. They are led in scoring by senior center Brianne Alexander, who is averaging 11.2 PPG.

“She’ll be a difficult matchup for us,” Turner said. “So we’ve got to figure out a way to send help and not put our kids in positions one-on-one. We don’t have any post presence, so anytime that matchup happens, it’s difficult for us. So we have to find a way to guard her collectively.”

The Racers’ second matchup will take place on the road, as they will take on SIUE at Edwardsville, Illinois. The Cougars head into the week with two games on the schedule.  They will take on Eastern Illinois Thursday, before taking on Murray State Saturday.

SIUE sits at 13-10 overall and 10-2 in conference play. They are currently on a two-game win streak after defeating Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State at home. They shoot an average of 39.4 percent per game, while their opponents have a 39.3 percent from the field They are led in scoring by senior guard Donshel Beck with 14 PPG, along with senior guard Lauren White, who averages 13.7 PPG.

Murray State converts on 40.3 percent of their shot attempts, while its defense allows its opponents shoot 46.9 percent on the hardwood.  The Racers have the second- and sixth-highest scorers in the OVC in senior guard Ke’Shunan James, with 20.3 points per game, and senior forward Bria Bethea, with 16 points per game.

Murray State will take on Austin Peay at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 8, at the CFSB Center.