Murray – For once, the Murray State women’s basketball team managed a game with Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville that was relatively devoid of late drama.
However, the main term is “relative”. There were still some tense moments as SIUE cut their lead by 24 points in the fourth quarter to just 10 points in the waning stages of the match. However, the racers had what it took to not only claim an 87-73 win over the annoying Cougars but stay within an astonishing range of #1 Belmont in the race for the Ohio Valley Conference Championship.
This also helped ease some of the pain of Thursday’s catastrophic overtime loss at Austin Peay as the racers were unable to finish the game after taking an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter.
“I told (Jeremy Rose, the guy who plays the women’s radio racer) that if they were writing a story or a movie about this season, we definitely wouldn’t call us The Closers. said Murray State coach Rachel Turner, whose team has moved to 16-7 overall and 8 -4 in OVC play, two games behind #1 Belmont.SIUE dropped to 9-13 overall and 5-6 OVC.
Regardless of fourth-quarter problems, Murray State did a lot of good things on Saturday. For starters, they shot well, and finished the evening 27 of 53 from the field (50.9%) and outperformed the Cougars 45-27 with 12 of those rebounds at the end of the attack.
It was a night where two of the riders – guards Alexis Borbo and Massey Turley – scored 20 points, leading a balanced attack that saw forwards Catelyn Young and Hannah McKay also break into doubles with 17 and 12 points, respectively. The double, which included a spike of 12 rebounds.
Burpo has played big in other areas, adding eight rebounds and five attacking assists and matching Turley with seven assists.
“She does great reads,” Turley said of fellow Murray High Alum Burbo, who scored most of her driving points to the basket for jogging or short jumping exercises.
“My teammates trust me and they give me great passes,” said Borbo, whose numbers on Saturday are similar to those of the past several games, especially with rebounds and assists.
It’s something Turner certainly noticed.
“Alexis has been fantastic and I will continue her work…If she’s not a starting player for the team this year, I don’t know who it is,” Turner said. “She saved her best basketball this year. It was really cool.
“It wasn’t for Alexis, we wouldn’t be where we are now.”
SIUE had an early lead in the game, jumping to a 12-4 lead, and the biggest part of that was the turnovers, which were an all-day problem for Murray State. SIUE forced eight points in the first quarter alone and scored six of those fouls as the Cougars used a stifling press defense.
However, the racers adjusted themselves in the second quarter, limiting turns while finding their shooting stroke to outpace the Cougars 27-10 and score a 42-26 lead at the break. Murray State’s defense also had something to do with this as SIUE had to settle for quick shots for the majority of the second quarter and went from hitting 50% of their shots in the opening clip to just 28.5% in the second quarter. SIUE missed nine of their last 10 shots before the break.
That lead would balloon to the 20s for most of the second half and was at 73-49 with about seven minutes remaining. However, SIUE, the extravagant fork at the Murray State side, is far from over, beating the racers 23-14 and forcefully forcing eight of the 24 racers, to finally make things fun.
“No leader is safe in team play and we have seen that in team play this year,” Turley said. “We have to go back and focus on how to keep pedaling constantly and not give up on potential customers.”