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The Murray State News

Women’s basketball blows 18-point lead to Northern Iowa

Kristopher Fister
Senior guard Bria Sanders-Woods goes for a layup.

After losing by 20 in the first meeting between the Murray State Racers and the Northern Iowa Panthers, the Racers had taken a 12-point lead into halftime before letting the game slip away in the second half.

“Anybody that sees any of our kids walking out of the gym or sees them in public this week, give them a hug because that’s not on them, that game’s on me,” Racers’ Head Coach Rechelle Turner said after the game.

Murray State hosted Northern Iowa on Saturday, Feb. 17, as the two teams were neck and neck in the Missouri Valley Conference standings. Murray State opened the first quarter with a dominant performance, forcing the Panthers to shoot 5-15 (33%) from the field.

The Racers’ dominance continued throughout the second quarter, as they shot 10-15 (67%) from the field and had a 48-36 lead at halftime. Murray State made 19-37 (51%) of their shots in the first half. After a rough first quarter offensively, the Panthers began to shoot better in the second quarter. They shot 8-17 (47%) from the field in the second quarter and 13-32 (41%) overall in the second half.

With 6:45 left in the third quarter, the Racers were leading 60-42. Things seemed all but over, but the Panthers had different plans in mind. After a pair of Panther free throws to end the third quarter, the Racers led 72-60. 

Northern Iowa kicked the fourth quarter off with a made layup on its first possession and turned right back around after a missed Racers 3-point attempt with a jumper to narrow the gap to eight points. After a few scoreless possessions, the Panthers converted on a jumper to make it a six point game with 7:42 left. 

The Racers were able to fend off the Panthers’ offense for a while, but their last made shot was with 2:34 left in the game to extend their lead to 87-82. Northern Iowa went on to tie the game up at 87-87 with 1:46 after a 3-pointer by junior guard Maya McDermott.

The game remained tied until there was 0:26 left to play, as Northern Iowa’s junior forward Grace Boffeli made a layup and got fouled as she was shooting. Boffeli missed the and-one free throw to keep the Racers’ hopes alive. 

The Racers rushed down the floor and pushed the ball inside, but the paint was clogged up and there was not much space for an open look. The Racers missed their final shot and lost the game 89-87.

The Panthers ultimately shot 33-68 (48.5%) from the field in the win over the Racers despite Murray State dominating the boards, as they outrebounded Northern Iowa 49-32. McDermott scored 36 points after shooting 13-25 from the field she was 6-11 on 3-pointers.

“Twice this week, we’ve let one kid beat us,” Turner said. “All credit to McDermott, I mean what an unbelievable player, (she) made big shot after big shot, big play after big play. We tried lots of different things, tried lots of different combinations in guarding her, but we just didn’t have an answer.”

Racers senior forward Katelyn Young led the Racers in scoring with 23 points, she had 11 rebounds and three assists as well. Senior guard Bria Sanders-Woods was on fire offensively, as she was 7-11 from the field. Sanders-Woods totaled 17 points, four assists and a rebound. Senior forward Hannah McKay had 10 rebounds, seven points and two assists. Redshirt freshman Zoe Stewart came off of the bench, generating 11 points and three rebounds. 

The Racers had the lead throughout just about all of the game, but things slipped away in the final minute and a half. They now turn their attention towards the UIC Flames, who will host Murray State at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22. If you cannot make it to the game, you can watch it live on ESPN+.


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Ronan Summers, Sports writer

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