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The Murray State News

Racers rally to defeat Morehead State after trio of technical fouls

Sophomore guard Macey Turley drives baseline against Morehead State. (Photo by Gage Johnson/TheNews)

Josh Embry

Staff Writer

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Murray State women’s basketball overcame foul trouble and the ejection of Head Coach Rechelle Turner late in the second quarter to come away with a 83-75 win against Morehead State.

After sophomore guard Lex Mayes made her second three pointer of the first half at the 3:27 mark in the second quarter, she pointed to sophomore guard Macey Turley as a nod for the assist. However, the referee thought Mayes was pointing at a Morehead State player and gave her a technical foul. 

Turner walked out onto the court to ask why a technical foul was called and was given a technical after she raised her voice at the official. Seconds later, she received her second technical foul and was ejected from the game. 

Assistant Coach Amber Guffey took the reigns from then on. Guffey said this was the first time she had ever seen a Murray State coach get ejected.

“This game, obviously, was a little different than any I have ever experienced in college being a former player here,” Guffey said. “I did play against a coach that got thrown out [but] I have never seen one at Murray State.”

Guffey said there was no plan on who would coach the team should Turner be ejected. 

“We did not have a [backup] plan,” Guffey said. “We have never talked about that. I guess you don’t really think, ‘Hey, I might get thrown out of this game so you need to be ready.’ That has never been a conversation we have had.”

Regardless, Guffey, who had an excellent playing career at Murray State, accepted the challenge and coached the Racers to victory, although she said she did what Turner would do, perhaps with a little less yelling.

“I didn’t do anything except call a play,” Guffey said. “They are out there playing. I didn’t do anything that Coach Turner would not have done, except I might not yell as much as her.”

The Racers switched from man-defense late in the first quarter to a 2-3 zone and occasionally did a 2-2-1 full-court press to close driving lanes for the Eagles.

“We switched to zone because we had a hard time staying in front of them [in man defense],” Turner said. “They got all those paint points at the beginning of the game and our guards had a hard time. They are just quick [and] fast [and] sometimes we struggle against more athletic teams. They are not a great shooting team if you look at their stats. That was part of the game plan. If they are scoring in the paint, then we are going to have to play in zone.”

After the three technicals, Murray State held a 42-40 halftime lead. Additionally, junior forward Laci Hawthorne committed her third foul early in the second quarter and played only 10 minutes.

Sophomore forward Alexis Burpo earned a double-double one minute into the third quarter after finishing with nine points and nine rebounds in the first half. The Eagles committed seven turnovers in the quarter but outscored the Racers by one point. The Racers entered the fourth quarter leading 60-59.

With Murray State leading 72-67 with just over three minutes left to play, consecutive threes by sophomore guard Raegan Blackburn and Mayes sealed the deal for the Racers, as they went on to win by eight points.

Blackburn’s three-pointer was her first and only basket of the day. Hawthorne said the team has always been confident about Blackburn’s ability to make clutch shots and loves to see her shooting the ball with confidence.

“It’s good because we always encourage each other and keep each other lifted up and we know she can [make shots] so when she hit that shot, it wasn’t a surprise to us,” Hawthorne said. “We know what she is capable of.”

All five starters for Murray State were clicking offensively, as they all scored in double figures and accounted for 96% of the team’s points. Turley said the starters are beginning to mesh offensively with each other.

“I think we are kind of gelling,” Turley said. “Offensively, we are looking to pass the ball up and we are just making good decisions offensively.”

Guffey was impressed with the starters’ ability to rise to the challenge despite the adversity the team faced.

“We had a lot of players step up,” Guffey said. “When you have five players [score] in double figures, you give yourself a shot to win in this league.”

Turley scored a game-high 23 points, dished out eight assists and had three steals. She struggled shooting the ball (5-18 FG) but went 12-for-15 from the line. Turley said she tries to get to the free throw line when she is struggling from the field.

“Usually when my shot is not falling, I try to get to the free throw line to try to get my rhythm back,” Turley said. 

Burpo finished her double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds as well as two assists and two blocks. Guffey seconded Turner’s statements about Burpo’s progression throughout the season and her steady production.

“Burpo is probably our most improved player from last year to now to even in conference play,” Guffey said. “I think she just has more confidence. She knows she can do it. She has proven she can produce at this level whereas people probably doubted that she could, but I think she has done a good job. She is one player that I think [we] can say we can count on every night to be close to a double-double.”

Mayes went 4-for-5 from behind the arc and finished with 15 points and three assists. Freshman forward Macie Gibson finished with 14 points and five rebounds while Hawthorne had a double-double herself with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The Eagles’ top scorers were junior guard Jazzmyn Elston (23 points and seven rebounds), freshman guard Ariel Kirkwood (10 points and 10 rebounds), senior guard Breuna Jackson (10 points and five assists) and senior forward Orlandra Humphries (10 points and six rebounds).

With the win, Murray State moves to 5-9 in conference play and ahead of Morehead State in the OVC standings. The Racers currently sit at eighth in the rankings, above Morehead State and below Austin Peay.

Guffey said this win was crucial for the team’s chances of participating in the OVC Tournament.

“It was good to come out with a win because we obviously need[ed] this win to keep our hopes up for the tournament because if we lost this game, it is probably not likely for us to make the tournament,” Guffey said.

The Racers will look to ride their winning momentum into Charleston, Illinois, when they take on Eastern Illinois at 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20.

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