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Racer women honored at senior night

March 9, 2015 Athletics, Basketball

With looks of confidence on their faces, the women’s basketball team walked on the court last Saturday for its last home game against Austin Peay State.

Before beginning the team honored three seniors: forward and center Netanya Jackson, forward Chanyere Hosey and guard Keiona Kirby. Head Coach Rob Cross and Racer fans cheered for the seniors as they took the floor for their last game.

“We’re just thrilled to come out with a victory on senior night,” Cross said. “It was great to show our seniors how proud the team is and to win our last game in the arena.”

The Racers faced a tough back and forth scoring game against the Lady Govs, but Kirby scored the first eight points of the game.

“It’s been a great experience to win the senior game,” Kirby said. “It feels good to pull out a win and I feel confident.  It was an antsy game but it was a good experience and the crowd was really into it.”

According to GoRacers.com, freshman forward and guard, Ke’Shunan James led the Racers, adding 18 points to the game followed by Kirby and sophomore guard, LeAsia Wright who added 14 points.

The team was able to pull out a win in the last 30 seconds of the game the racers were up by three and with a few good free throws came out winning against the Lady Govs 72-67.

The Racers face the UT Martin Skyhawks at 4 p.m. Saturday in Martin, Tenn.

#40 Chanyere Hosey

Kalli Bubb/The News

Position: Forward

Hometown: Bollingbrook, Ill.

Height: 6 feet 1 inches

Total career points: 58

Total career rebounds: 164

Total career assists: 19

#13 Keiona Kirby

Jenny Rohl/The News

Jenny Rohl/The News

Position: Guard

Hometown: Jackson, Tenn.

Height: 5 feet 9 inches

Total career points: 471

Total career rebounds: 136

Total career assists: 52

#00 Netanya Jackson

Jenny Rohl/The News

Jenny Rohl/The News

Position: Forward/Center

Hometown: Nashville, Tenn.

Height: 6 feet 4 inches

Total career points: 116

Total career rebounds: 109

Total career assists: 11

Story by Kelsey Randolph, Assistant Sports Editor

Rough start for Women’s Basketball

Kalli Bubb/The News Freshman forward and guard Ke’Shunan James dribbles down the court, with three Lady Tigers following.

Kalli Bubb/The News
Freshman forward and guard Ke’Shunan James dribbles down the court, with three Lady Tigers following.

Four games into the conference schedule and women’s basketball has yet to secure a win after falling 76-72 to Tennessee State on Thursday.

“We have a philosophy,” said Head Coach Rob Cross. “If there is a player between you and the basket, you have to attack that player and beat that player to get to the rim.”

The Racers (5-12, 0-4) struggled early to break through the Lady Tigers’ defense, settling instead for outside shots, many of which missed the mark. They shot 20 percent from behind the three-point line in the first half. They fared better in the second half, shooting 6-11 from behind the arc led by senior guard Keiona Kirby, who hit four of her nine three-point shots. 

The Racers so far are winless on the road but had played better at home until Thursday. Tennessee State (6-9, 3-1) controlled the game early, then hit free throws in the final minute to seal a win.

Kalli Bubb/The News Freshman guard Olivia Cunningham goes against Lady Tiger defense Thursday night at the CFSB Center.

Kalli Bubb/The News
Freshman guard Olivia Cunningham goes against Lady Tiger defense Thursday night at the CFSB Center.

Despite trading leads with the Lady Tigers through most of the second half, Cross said it was hard to make up for the difference in rebounds. Tennessee State had more than twice as many second chances as the Racers with 29 offensive boards compared to Murray State’s 12.

“Rebounding is what we need to work on,” Cross said. “I felt bad for our players because we did everything else right and it’s been like this at all four of the conference games.”

The Racers started the OVC season with a three game losses on the road, making them 0-8 away from CFSB Center. Despite the losing record, Cross said he can’t harp on the negativity.

“We’re just concerned about getting another possession,” Cross said. “I feel good about where we are, but we’re struggling trying to find that extra one or two possessions at the end of the games.”

Kalli Bubb/The News Above: Freshman guard Olivia Cunningham and senior forward Chanyere Hosey defend against Tennessee State players.

Kalli Bubb/The News
Above: Freshman guard Olivia Cunningham and senior forward Chanyere Hosey defend against Tennessee State players.

Still, Cross said he saw improvement in energy in the last minutes of the game. The players, though, aren’t satisfied.

“We can’t have the same results we’ve been having,” said freshman guard, Olivia Cunningham. “We can’t start out slow in games. We have to have energy during the whole game. If we come out with energy and don’t turn it over we’ll do better.”

Since the start of the conference season, the Racers (0-3) have traveled to Morehead State (2-1), Tennessee Tech (2-2) and Jacksonville State (2-2), losing to each by five points or fewer.

Cross said a lot of the younger players are still learning how to make on-court decisions. He said with experience they will learn, but he is looking for veteran players to step up and lead.

Freshman forward and guard Ke’Shunan James said losing only amplifies the challenge awaiting in the next game against Belmont at 5 p.m. tomorrow.

“We’ve got the team to win,” James said. “To do it we just have to work. We have the good scores. We’re hungry for a win at this point. The next team has to look out because we’re going to be on it.”

Story by Kelsey Randolph, Assistant Sports Editor

Women’s season ends with road loss

March 7, 2014 Athletics, Basketball

Despite two career-high performances from its forwards, women’s basketball was unable to finish the season with a victory on the road at Southeast Missouri State Saturday.

Playing in her final game as a Racer, senior forward Jessica Winfrey pulled down 20 rebounds and put up a career-high 22 points in the 65-57 loss.

Junior forward Netanya Jackson also turned in a career-high performance with 17 points off the bench.

“To see Jessica have her second 20-20 game in a matter of weeks makes me really proud of how she finished off her career,” said Head Coach Rob Cross.

Facing the Redhawks for the second time in 10 days, the Racers’ offense struggled and depended on free throws to keep them in the game.

Murray State grabbed the early lead but couldn’t contain the Redhawks, who went on a 10-0 run in the opening minutes.

“We couldn’t score for a few stretches, and they took advantage of it to grab that early lead,” Cross said.

After a basket by freshman guard Taylor Porter made it 18-12, the Racers turned to Jackson for a spark off the bench.

Jackson took over, scoring 10 straight points, including her first 3-pointer of the season, to give the Racers the lead.

Murray State used the free throw line late in the opening half to take a 34-30 lead into the locker room.

“We always want to get to the free throw line,” Cross said. “When you get to the line, you get a chance to score, along with a chance for rest.”

The second half allowed the Racers push their lead to 43-34 before the Redhawks rallied. SEMO used a 15-5 run with 12 minutes remaining to regain the lead while the Racers struggled to score.

“We came out in the second half with great effort and the girls didn’t quit,” Cross said. “Fatigue just got to us.”

A 3-pointer by sophomore forward Jashae Lee with 11 minutes remaining was the last field goal the Racers made.

With baskets not falling for the Racers, the Redhawks finished the game on a 16-4 run over the final nine minutes.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well enough to win the game,” Cross said. “I think playing all these games late in the season took its toll on us.”

Despite the loss, the Racers shot a season-high 88 percent from the free throw line, making 22 shots.

Winfrey earned her 21st double-double in the last game of her career, leaving her tied for fourth place all-time in Murray State history.


Story by Tom Via, Staff writer

Looking back: A recap of this season

March 7, 2014 Athletics, Basketball


The journey for the women’s basketball team ended long and bumpy, as it finished 11-17 overall and failed to make it to the OVC Tournament.

While fatigue and injuries affected the Racers’ record, Head Coach Rob Cross said it didn’t keep the team from learning and gaining valuable experience.

“That is the one thing I am the most proud of,” Cross said. “Despite all the losses and a seven-game the losing streak, the team didn’t argue or complain once.”

The list of accomplishments for this year’s team begins with senior Jessica Winfrey, who recorded nine double-doubles, including two games with 20 rebounds. Winfrey provided the leadership for the team, and she will be a player the Racers will have to replace.

“The numbers she put up was impressive, averaging a double-double this season,” Cross said. “But the biggest thing she did was provide stability and leadership, and we are going to miss that.”

Winfrey averaged nearly 11 points and 11 rebounds per game and finished with 302 rebounds.

Murray State started the season strong, earning seven wins in non-conference play, making it one of three teams in the conference with a winning record at the time. When the OVC preseason poll slotted the Racers third in the West Division, Cross said the team looked to prove the poll wrong.

“We beat Saint Louis and lost to a Big East team in Xavier by three points,” Cross said. “It showed that we could play with that level of competition and we were ready for conference play.”

Though the first two conference games were close, the Racers opened OVC play with back-to-back losses to Eastern Kentucky and UT Martin.

“As a team we saw that and thought this was our opportunity to make a run for the championship,” Cross said.

Unfortunately, the team struggled against each opponent and failed to earn a win until January when Murray State defeated rival Austin Peay 76-68.

The following game the Racers faced off against Belmont and suffered a crucial injury that changed the season.

Junior guard Keiona Kirby had led the team with nearly 20 points per game, but she injured her knee 19 seconds into play.

“We had already lost Antonia Niebler and Andrea Dickerson for the season, and from that point forward it was just a battle,” Cross said. “We lost one of the best guards in the league and somebody that was a huge piece for us offensively scoring and rebounding.”

Without Kirby, the Racers lost seven straight games before defeating Eastern Illinois on Feb. 15. During the losing streak, the Racers rotated four freshman guards and turned to Julia Fox to take the scoring role from Kirby. Two games later, Fox suffered a similar knee injury.

With the postseason out of the picture, the Racers took the opportunity to improve and start building a foundation for next year.

Junior forward Netanya Jackson finished the season with three consecutive OVC Newcomer of the Week awards and averaged nearly a double-double the final three weeks of the season.

Freshman guard Janssen Starks started all 28 games for the Racers, and her role changed throughout the year. Starks averaged almost 11 points and four assists this season.

“When we signed her we didn’t know exactly what we were going to get from her,” Cross said. “Janssen is a problem solver and she figured out how to score more and get to the free throw line when we needed it.”

Murray State earned one postseason award when freshman guard Taylor Porter made the OVC All-Newcomer team. Porter started in 17 games for the Racers and led the team with 306 points.

“Early in the season her confidence was shaken due to turnovers and she was in a hurry,” Cross said. “Throughout the year she slowed down and became a much better player for us.”

Murray State will return all four injured players, along with new players in sophomore transfer guard LeAsia Wright and freshman Ke’Shunan James.


Story by Tom Via, Staff writer 

Women fall short after late rally

January 19, 2014 Athletics, Basketball
Lori Allen / The News Taylor Porter (1), freshman guard from Louisa, Ky., is overtaken by an SIUE player during the game there on Saturday.

Lori Allen / The News
Taylor Porter (1), freshman guard from Louisa, Ky., is overtaken by an SIUE player during the game in Edwardsville, Ill. Saturday.

Women’s basketball couldn’t earn its second conference win of the season Saturday night, as the Racers fell to the Cougars of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville 71-67.

Despite career highs from freshmen guards Julia Fox and Janssen Starks, the Racer offense struggled to score and could not overcome a second-half deficit.

Murray State fell behind 11-0 in the game’s opening minutes but responded with immediately. Starks put the Racers on the scoreboard and the team caught fire from the 3-point line. The Racers used the 3-point shot often, hitting five of their first seven, to tie the game at 19 with 11 minutes remaining in the opening half.

After the hot starts by both teams, the scoring eased and the teams struggled to score. Murray State claimed its first lead of the game on free throws from freshman guard Julia Fox. The first half ended with Fox scoring as time expired to give the team a 33-29 lead over the Cougars at the half.

Lori Allen / The News Julia Fox (21), freshman guard from Lebanon, Tenn., scores a field goal, adding 2 of her career-high 15 points during the loss against SIUE.

Lori Allen / The News
Julia Fox (21), freshman guard from Lebanon, Tenn., scores a field goal, adding 2 of her career-high 15 points during the loss against SIUE.

SIUE stormed back in the opening minutes of the second half when Murray State turned the ball over four times. The Cougars used an 8-2 run to gain the 43-39 advantage with 13 minutes to play.

After a 3-pointer by Starks gave Murray State a 45-43 lead, SIUE went on a 9-1 run the from which the Racers could not recover. Murray State got within one point with four minutes remaining, but the Cougars responded with a 3-pointer that ended the Racers’ momentum.

Murray State’s final rally came with 13 seconds left to cut the lead to two points, but SIUE free-throws sealed the game and handed the Racers the loss.

Starks led the team with 24 points on 9 of 13 shooting, including a career-high five 3’s. Fox, in her fifth start of the season, added a career-high 15 points in the loss. Senior forward Jessica Winfrey pulled down 14 rebounds, giving her 11 games this season with double-digit rebounds.

Murray State continues its road trip at 7 p.m. Monday against Eastern Illinois.

Staff Report

Racers take tough loss to UT Martin

January 4, 2014 Athletics, Basketball

A 3-point shot by senior forward Jessica Winfrey came up short in the final seconds and women’s basketball fell 88-87 to the three-time OVC champion UT Martin Saturday.

In the Racers’ conference home-opener the top two scoring teams in the conference were in full force, hitting 18 3-pointers in a game with eight players score double digits.

“It was two very good offensive teams that were really going at each other, and it is tough because I feel bad for our players who played their hearts out,” Head Coach Rob Cross said.

While the shot by Winfrey came up short, the Racers nearly overcame an eight-point deficit in the game’s final five minutes.

“When you lose a game by one point, the players will start to think about the shots they missed,” Cross said. “(Jessica) was upset because she missed some shots and I hope that she understands that her second half was great and that she shakes it off.”

The game begin with the Skyhawks gaining an early advantage as All-OVC guards Heather Butler and Jasmine Newsome led UT Martin to a 19-13 lead early in the first half. Murray State rallied with a 9-0 run with 3s from freshman guards Janssen Starks and Julia Fox and forward Jashae Lee to gain a 22-19 advantage.

With the game tied, UT Martin used a 14-4 run led by their guards to surge to their largest lead of the night, 33-26.

With the Racers down by four, they began their comeback late in the first half using a 13-5 run in the final four minutes to take a 54-50 lead into the locker room.

In the second half, scoring returned to a normal pace and the Racers surged to a seven-point lead as Winfrey scored underneath the basket with 15 minutes remaining.

The Skyhawks battled back and used 10 second-half Racer turnovers to score 15 points to create an 11-2 run that gave the Skyhawks the lead for good. The Racers tried to rally, scoring six straight to get within one point, but a free throw by Winfrey was missed in the last minute, setting up the final shot.

While the final shot didn’t go in for the Racers, Winfrey said the loss showed that this team had a special trait.

“We have a lot of heart,” Winfrey said. “If we can play that hard every game we will be fine and make it a long way.”

Junior guard Keiona Kirby led the Racers with 27 points. Winfrey pulled down a career-high 20 rebounds in the loss, with 19 coming in the second half.

The Racers will face Southeast Missouri at 7 p.m. Monday night at the CFSB Center.

Story by Tom Via, Staff writer

Women 2-0 of win over Purple Aces

November 12, 2013 Athletics, Basketball

Women’s basketball used an 11-3 run to open the second half of Monday night’s game to pull away from Evansville for a 62-50 win

The Racers took the lead five minutes into the game and did not allow it to slip for the remainder of the game. Murray State led by as many as 14 points and as few as five with less than five minutes to play.

With two minutes to play, a 3-pointer from freshman Nikia Edom all but sealed the win.

Edom and sophomore Keiona Kirby led the team with 13 points. Sophomore Jashae Lee added 12 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for the teams only double-double.

The Racers shot 28 percent for the game, but that was still better than the Purple Aces’ 19 percent.

Senior forward Jessica Winfrey grabbed 17 rebounds added seven points of her own in the win.

The Racers return to action Saturday when the travel to Western Kentucky in Bowling Green, Ky. Tip-off is at 2 p.m.

Staff Report

Women cruise to first victory

November 10, 2013 Athletics, Basketball

The women’s basketball team cruised to a 101-44 win in its season opener against Robert Morris-Springfield.

The win marks the fourth time in six years the team has won its first game of the season and the 22nd time the team has scored triple digits.

Junior guard Keiona Kirby hit a layup to give the Racers an 11-point lead five minutes into the game, and the team kept a double-digit lead for the remainder of the contest.

Murray State’s defense held the Eagles to 18.6 percent shooting and earned 11 steals.

Several Racers recorded their first career points or set personal highs in the victory.

Kirby led the team in scoring and broke her career-high with 25 points.

Senior Jessica Winfrey scored 15 points while also pulling down 11 rebounds for the team’s only double-double.

Four freshmen rounded out the double-digit scoring for the Racers. Julia Fox hit four 3-pointers for 12 points, while Taylor Porter, Janssen Starks and Nikia Edom scored 11 points each.

Junior Chanyere Hosey added four points and a team-high 13 rebounds.

The Racers next game is set for 7 p.m. Monday in Evansville, Ind., against the Purple Aces.

Staff Report

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