MURRAY -- Murray State knows, on most nights at least, it's going to be at a size disadvantage this season.
But during Monday night's 82-36 home exhibition win over Georgetown College, some fundamental building blocks were put in place for the beginning of the 2019-20 season.
Newcomer and junior college transfer Laci Hawthorne shined in her MSU debut, scoring a game-high 20 points with 12 rebounds, while lone Racer senior Cekeya Mack came off the bench for 10 points and 12 boards.
And it's no secret that both of them will have to be the head of a committee this year when it comes to rebounding.
"Coach has been emphasizing effort and attitude this whole week," Hawthorne said. "So we knew that if we could get to the boards, then we would be successful in the game.
"This is probably going to be one of the only teams that we're bigger than, so we knew that we just had to take advantage of that."
Hawthorne picked up her double-double in 26 minutes, and Mack picked hers up in 17 minutes. Macie Gibson, finally back from last season's ACL injury, and Alexis Burpo both added eight boards.
In total, MSU outrebounded the Tigers 62-40 -- 43-to-26 defensively, and 19-to-14 offensively.
"I thought we gave up too many offensive rebounds," noted third-year MSU coach Rechelle Turner. "But as I was sitting there analyzing that, a lot of those were long rebounds. We had people boxed out, but the ball went over our head.
The guards were crashing, but maybe we weren't holding our block outs long enough. And maybe we need to realize that longer shots, ball is going to come off longer. Fundamental defensive things.
"But it's not like we got outmuscled underneath the basket a whole lot of times for boards. We've got to adjust to that. We're not going to be bigger than most teams we play this year. We do feel like we've taken care of that with our 2020 class coming in, but that's a year away. We're going to have to adjust and be tougher in key situations to be successful. And we're going to have to rebound by committee."
Where MSU was effective on Monday was defensively; Georgetown went 12-for-67 from the field and 3-for-26 from the arc -- sometimes lending to those long rebounds.
"The staple of this team: they play hard," Turner added. "I think if anybody had watched us play before (tonight) and came out tonight, the one thing they can go away with is this bunch plays hard. They may not do everything right, but they're going to play hard and play for each other. I think that's the one reason why we're better defensively. More communication. More people willing to work harder defensively, because they don't want to let their teammates down."
MURRAY STATE 82, GEORGETOWN 36
Georgetown 7 16 8 5 -- 36
Murray State 15 26 15 26 -- 82
RACERS -- Laci Hawthorne 20, Macey Turley 12, Macie Gibson 11, Jentri Worley 10, Cekeya Mack 10, Lex Mayes 8, Raegan Blackburn 5, Alexis Burpo 2, G'Torria Swinton 2, Sarah Sutton 2.
FG: 29-72. 3PT: 9-30 (Worley 3, Mayes 2, Turley 2, Gibson, Blackburn). FT: 15-21. Reb: 62. PF: 19. Ast: 18. TO: 12.
TIGERS -- Lauren Boblitt 7, Alexis Stapleton 6, Kennedy Flynn 6, Hailey Ison 3, Whitney O'Mara 3, Terri Abram 3, Kallie Sheron 2, Raegan Williams 2, Madison Darnell 2, Olivia Bowling 2.
FG: 12-67. 3PT: 3-26 (Stapleton 2, Boblitt). FT: 9-16. Reb: 40. PF: 15. Ast: 5. TO: 17.