MURRAY -- An early 12-point deficit and a first-quarter injury to freshman guard Macie Gibson were supposed to be two more hits to Murray State's difficult 2019-20 season.
Instead, the Racers got 21 points and the game-winning layup from sophomore guard Alexis Burpo, 19 points and nine rebounds from junior forward Laci Hawthorne, and a critical 66-65 win over Eastern Kentucky on Thursday night at the CFSB Center.
Trailing 22-10 after the first quarter, the Racers (14-14, 7-10 Ohio Valley Conference) outscored the Colonels (10-18, 4-13) 21-10 in the second quarter - shooting 6-for-14 from the field with two 3-pointers from key reserve guard Ashley Hunter.
And with Gibson out for the game, junior forward G'Torria Swinton came off the bench for 11 rebounds - a career-high.
Burpo opened the second half with a basket for a 33-32 Racer lead, and from there, neither team possessed more than a two-possession advantage.
With 5:30 left in regulation, the Colonels grabbed a 57-54 lead with a triple from Teri Goodlett - one of her four 3-pointers and three of her team-leading 20 points.
Raegan Blackburn's second 3-pointer gave MSU a 64-60 lead when EKU got a fourth 3-pointer from Catie Kaifes and a layup from Bria Bass (16 points).
But Burpo, however, came down and drove for the winning basket, and the Colonels missed two shots in the final 10 seconds.
A half-hour after the clock expired, MSU learned it is an entrant to the OVC Tournament next week in Evansville - courtesy of Morehead State's loss at Austin Peay.
"I've said all along that every experience we can give this team will help us going forward, because we have no seniors," Turner added. "So, just the experience of getting to Evansville, being in that environment and being in that pressure situation, I think is going to help.
"I just hope we have five kids that can go. It's getting to that point where I'm almost scared to practice. Almost scared for contact. All joking aside, it's getting kind of crucial time with injuries. We don't feel like we're doing anything different. We even cut out the weights this week to try and rest the muscles and things like that."
EKU 22 10 15 18 - 65
MSU 10 21 15 20 - 66
COLONELS - Teri Goodlett 20, Bria Bass 16, Catie Kaifes 13, I'Liyah Green 9, Qay Stanton 4, De'Ayra 3.
FG: 25-64. 3PT: 8-23 (Goodlett 4, Kaifes 4). FT: 7-13. Reb: 38. PF: 16. Ast: 12. TO: 12. Stl: 8. Blk: 3. Record: 10-18 (4-13).
RACERS - Alexis Burpo 21, Laci Hawthorne 19, Lex Mayes 11, Raegan Blackburn 8, Ashley Hunter 7.
FG: 22-48. 3PT: 6-9 (Blackburn 2, Mayes 2, Hunter 2, Burpo). FT: 16-19. Reb: 31 (Swinton 11). PF: 15. Ast: 7. TO: 13. Stl: 6. Blk: 2. Record: 14-14 (7-10).