MURRAY-Five straight. That's how many games the Murray State women's basketball team has won in a row this season, marking the best streak since 2009 and the best start in history since 2008.
They shot a meager 34% from the floor and still came out victorious 70-62, thanks to stout defense, a common theme this year. This season's team has a familiar feel to something one might have experienced when Rechelle Turner was the head coach of the Murray High Lady Tigers. Not necessarily in the final scores, although they are winning, but in the effort that this team is playing with this season.
After one quarter of play, they were 0-8 from the arc and just 14% from the field, yet they trailed by only six points.
"It just goes to show you that it's not necessarily how you start but how you finish," Turner said. "We shot 14% in the first quarter. It didn't seem like we could get anything going offensively. Defensively we held them, there was a four-minute stretch where neither team scored, so defensively we held the wall until we started making some plays and started making some shots offensively. That's been our struggle. The fact that we are 6-2 and we're shooting the ball as bad as we are shooting, just goes to show the resiliency of this team...We talked about this all year long, the little things make the big things happen and I felt like tonight it was the little things that added up to the victory."
The Racers shooting struggles continued into the beginning minutes of the second quarter as they went 0-10 from the three-point line before Macey Turley finally broke through with a shot from the top of the arc with 5:28 left in the second. Seconds later, Lex Mayes buried a triple and the offense was back on track. They went on to win the quarter 24-13 and that proved to be the difference at the end of the game.
"Shooters shoot," Turner said. "That's what we told Lex all night long, 'Shooters shoot,' because you know when you're not making them and you're used to making them, you kind of come over to the bench in the first media timeout with the long face. Shooters shoot, and she kept shooting and then made big big shots."
Mayes finished the night with the second-most points on the team with 21 points, behind Turley's 23 points, and it was due in large part to her resilience and ability to continue to shoot after some poor shooting early on.
What really kept the Racers in the game and ultimately resulted in their win was the defensive intensity. It was clear they took the scouting report to heart and were able to lock in on that end of the court.
"For the most part we're in the right place at the right time and the buy-in on the defensive end of the floor is what makes these kids special because that's been lacking in the past," Turner said. "You don't have to be big to block out. You don't have to be big to guard a big. You've got to want to and you've got to have heart and Sadie Hill is a perfect example of a kid that's undersized, still coming off an ACL , nowhere near 100% but she's got fight in her and all of the kids that play and all of the kids that are on the floor in those crucial situations can step up and make plays."
Hill's game featured seven rebounds and eight points (all from the free-throw line) and a presence that brought insane amounts of energy.
The Racers will look to continue collecting wins when they face Southern Illinois on Dec. 15 on the road.