Murray State’s second half comeback against SIU Edwardsville Saturday night at the CFSB Center came up just short as the Racers fell 75-70 to the Cougars. It was MSU’s first loss in OVC play this year.

After both teams struggled to score the ball in the first three quarters, both the Racers (5-8, 1-1 OVC) and SIUE (5-8, 2-0 OVC) exploded in the fourth period as the Racers scored 34 points and the Cougars had 30. The score was just 28-22 at halftime in favor of SIUE and 45-36 after three.

MSU trailed the entire first half before taking its first lead of the game at 32-31 with 5:06 left to play in the third quarter. However, that is when SIUE went on a run that proved costly for the Racers, outscoring MSU 14-4 to end the period and led 45-36 heading into the fourth.

In the fourth, the Racers would trail by as many as 11 points early on, but would fight their way back to within one at 63-62 with 2:15 left to play and 65-64 with just 1:06 left. However, the Racers could not regain the lead again.

For the game, MSU shot 35.5 percent while SIUE shot nearly 47 percent overall. The Racers entered the fourth shooting around 27 percent from the floor. The Racers went 6-of-18 (33 percent) from 3-point range in the loss while SIUE hit just 1-of-10. The Cougars did have a big advantage however at the free-throw line, going 28-of-37 (75.7 percent) including 25-of-33 in the second half. MSU meanwhile was 20-of-31 (64.5 percent) at the line.

Ke’Shunan James was great once again for MSU in the loss as she scored a game-high 32 points on 11-of-19 shooting. James also added six boards and four steals on the night. Bria Bethea also scored in double figures as she added 18 points and chipped in with eight boards and a team-best four assists. Abria Gulledge tallied eight points in the loss.

The Cougars had a 38-26 advantage in paint points in the contest and had a huge 24-2 advantage in points from their bench. However, MSU did have a 22-14 edge in points off turnovers and had a 12 fast break points to SIUE’s two.

The Racers will begin 2018 Thursday as Southeast Missouri comes to town for a 5 p.m., tip on January 4 as MSU opens conference play with four consecutive home games.

by Kevin DeVries

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