MURRAY, Ky. -- Ke'Shunan James recorded her fifth double-double of the season with 18 points and 10 rebounds over the Eastern Illinois women's basketball team as Murray State beat the Panthers, 72-61, in the Ohio Valley Conference opener. EIU fell to 1-11 overall and 0-1 in the OVC as Murray State improved to 5-7 overall and 1-0 in the OVC.
“We used a lot of energy to get back into it. When we were making a run and getting momentum, we didn’t make layups to help us out there,” said Matt Bollant in his radio spot after the game. “The shots in the fourth quarter, we were 5-of-15 and most of them were three to four feet in. I was proud of our effort. We did enough good things to give us a shot, we just didn’t execute some things enough down the stretch.”
The Racers forced seven first quarter turnovers, leading to 11 points for Murray State. Carmen Tellez scored 11 first half points to keep the Panthers in the game. Bria Bethea recorded 12 points and was 5-of-6 from the free throw line for the Racers.
Murray State led 39-23 heading into the second half and led by as much as 18 halfway through the third quarter. The Panthers cut into the Racers 18-point lead, bringing it to only five points led by Jennifer Nehls. Nehls scored eight points in the third quarter while Danielle Berry added seven, but the Panthers could not keep the momentum going.
In addition to James, Bethea and Brianna Crane finished in double-figures for Murray State who both fell short of double-doubles. Bethea scored 17 points, with eight rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Crane added 16 points and nine boards. James also tallied eight assists for the night.
Five Panthers finished in double-figures. Tellez had a team-leading 15 points. She also grabbed five boards and tallied three steals. Nehls and Berry neared double-doubles but fell short. Nehls recorded 10 points and nine rebounds with five offensive boards. Berry scored 10 points and grabbed eight boards. Karle Pace added 12 points off the bench while Taylor Steele finished with 10 points.
"Karle made plays when she had to," Bollant said. "Jenn getting five offensive rebounds was big and Carmen played her best game for us and played all 40 minutes."
The Panthers will return to action this Saturday, Dec. 30, at Austin Peay with a 4:30 pm tip-off.