By MARLON SCOTT | Senior Staff Writer
When Murray State sophomore guard Mariah Robinson made a jump shot from just past the free throw line with less than six minutes left in the game, Murray State players, coaches and fans erupted with cheers.
Robinson’s shot was the end of a run in which the Racers overcame a 16-point Lady Govs’ lead and tied the game at 56.
Lady Govs fans were stunned.
Just minutes before, they had been cheering as the Lady Govs exerted full control over the Racers. After Robinson’s shot those same fans were on the edge of their seats wondering if the Lady Govs were about to give away the game.
The Lady Govs responded to the Racers surge like champions.
It started with junior center Jasmine Rayner. She made two clutch plays in the paint and her team followed suit, sealing the win by making 9-of-12 from the free throw line.
“A lot of veteran players stepped up and made some things happen, and we weren’t going to lose that ball game,” said senior guard Brooke Faulkner.
“The thing that was in my head the whole time was one and done, and we didn’t want our season to end,” Rayner said.
Tied at 56, Robinson missed her next jumper and her team grabbed the offensive rebound. However when the ball swung back to Robinson, Rayner made the steal. On the ensuing Lady Govs possession junior guard Whitney Hanley drove to the basket and finished with a layup that gave her team the 58-56 lead.
After another Racer turnover, Rayner powered through several defenders to score in the paint while being fouled. She converted the 3-point play from the free throw line and the Lady Govs led 61-56 with 3:57 left in the game.
Rayner came up big again when the score was later tied at 61. After Hanley missed a short jumper, Rayner battled under the basket, got the offensive rebound, put it back up, made the shot and was fouled.
She did not convert the 3-point play that time. However, her teammates made the next six free throws to take a 69-63 lead with less than a minute remaining in the game. The Racers scored only one more point while continuing to put the Lady Govs on the free throw line where they sealed the win.
“We definitely have to tip our hats to Murray State,” said head coach Carrie Daniels. “We knew they weren’t going to give up. They were going to come at us for 40 minutes and that is exactly what they did. I have to be extremely proud and excited for this team to get this win and pull it out.”
The Lady Govs shot 50 percent (27-54) from the field while holding the Racers to 36 percent (22-61) shooting. They also shot 63 percent (10-16) from the free throw line.
Robinson led all scorers with 28 points.
Rayner was one of four Lady Govs to score double-digit points. She scored 15 and pulled down 7 rebounds. Faulkner led the team with 20 points. Hanley and senior forward Dalila Thomas scored 12.
This was the Lady Govs seventh straight win in the OVC Championship Tournament. It was also their sixth straight win over the Racers, including three this season.
They advance to play Eastern Illinois in the quarterfinals at noon, Thursday, March 3.
LADY GOVS VS. RACERS LIVE UPDATES
Update: Final 71-64
The Lady Govs make 9-of 12 free throws to put the game away after the Racers come back and tie the game.
Rayner battles in the paint, scores and is fouled. She will go to the free throw line to try and convert the 3-point play and expand the Lady Govs lead, 60-56 with less than four minutes left in the game.
The Lady Govs offense stalls while the Racers put together a 16-2 run. The game is close, 56-54 with 6:04 remaining.
The Lady Govs lead the Racers at halftime, 43-28.
They made 6-of-9 from 3-point range and are shot 58 percent (18-31) from the field.
Senior guard Brooke Faulkner scores five in a Lady Govs 19-3 run. Racers hit 3-pointers to stay in the game. Junior guard Whitney Hanley and Faulkner are hot from 3-point range.
Lady Govs establish biggest lead of the game so far, up 29-18. Racers take a timeout with 7:28 remaining in first half.
The Racers scored the first four points. Junior center Jasmine Rayner scores the first points for the Lady Govs in the paint and is fouled. She fails to convert the 3-point play.
Racers lead 5-2, at 16:40 in first half.