The Crowder Lady Roughriders had some trouble putting away the Murray State Lady Aggies during a 75-61 win Tuesday night at Bob Sneller Gymnasium and that was first on the mind of Crowder head coach Tina Wilson after the game.

“I told them after the game that we did a lot of good things,” Wilson said. “My biggest thing with tonight was that we’ve got to learn to put teams away. I felt like we had them on the ropes several times and we didn’t put them away. One of the issues is that we’ve got to have better shot selection. When we go through one of those lulls, when we’re letting people go on those runs, it’s because we’re taking poor shots. If we can fix that and take better shots, obviously we’re going to shoot a better percentage and we’re not going to let people get on those runs and we can put them away.”

For an example of that, let’s take a look at late in the third quarter when a 8-0 Crowder run — baskets from Morgan Crawford, Alex Vogt, Coley Ickes, and Maegan Bandimere — gave the Lady ‘Riders their biggest lead of the night at 57-39.

Murray State answered with eight straight points to make it a 57-47 game, then Ickes closed out the third with a pull-up jumper for a 59-47 lead headed into the fourth.

Murray State’s Hannah Wade hit a 3-point shot to start the fourth and Crowder was finally able to put the guests in the rearview mirror with the help of a string of free throws.

Getting to the line has been a strength of Crowder early in the season.

“I don’t know what we shot from the free throw line,” Wilson said, “but I know in the first half that we went 24 times. I don’t know how many in the second half, but that’s definitely one of our keys to the game. We want to attack and get to the free throw line. Any time you can get freebies, it’s always a plus. We have struggled at times to put the free throws in, but as long as you’re getting there a high percentage of the time, you’re going to give yourself a better chance to win.”

Entering the game Tuesday night, Crowder led all of NJCAA Division I with 183 free throw attempts, averaging over 30 attempts per contest.

“Our goal is that we want to make more free throws than our opponents attempt,” Wilson said. “We have done a good job of getting to the line and now if we could just shoot a higher percentage.”

In back-to-back wins over John Wood and Eastern Oklahoma, Crowder attempted 87 free throws and that two-game total is more than the free throws made by 175 teams in NJCAA-I.

Wilson’s thoughts, however, drifted back toward Tuesday night.

“We also talked about the defensive end too,” Wilson said. “I feel like we allowed them to get into the paint too easily and had some easy kickouts. We gave up 61 points, which is not a bad point total.”

With the win Tuesday night, Crowder improved to 5-2 on the season. After seven games last season, Crowder owned a 1-6 record.

Crowder did not earn its fifth win of the season last year until January 28, 2017 with a 73-72 road win over Jefferson in Region 16 play. At that point in the season, Crowder had a 5-18 mark.

In other words, Crowder reached five wins 16 games ahead of last season.

In the game Tuesday night, Michaela Mack scored a game-high 16 points to spark Crowder, while Ickes and White each had 14 points. White notched a double-double with 10 rebounds, while Vogt added eight points and seven rebounds. Ickes also tallied four steals and two assists. Crawford finished with eight points, two assists, and three steals.

Crowder made no 3-point goals in the contest, while Murray State netted 24 of its 61 points on the strength of eight 3-point shots.

Alyssa Hirawani — a freshman from New Zealand — led Murray State with 12 points, while Jordan Duke added 11 and Hannah Wade 10 for the guests from Tishomingo, Oklahoma.

Crowder returns to action tonight against North Oklahoma-Enid and Seminole State, respectively, in the Don Wilson Classic at Bob Sneller.

Murray State    13 18 16 15 — 61
Crowder    19 23 17 16 — 75
MURRAY STATE (3-3) — Jordan Duke 11, Taylor Barrett 3, Alyssa Hirawani 12, Alexandra Bolozova 5, Madalyn Jessepe 9, Charlea Leonard 4, Hannah Wade 10, Hannah Howard 7.
CROWDER (5-2) — Coley Ickes 14, Tori Coulter 6, Sydney Linny 0, Maegan Bandimere 6, Aubrie Ayers 3, Bethaney Gilkey 0, Michaela Mack 16, Morgan Crawford 8, Kaytee Frasher 0, Kallie Runions 0, Alex Vogt 8, Zahria White 14.
3-point goals — Murray State 8 (Duke 3, Wade 2, Barrett, Hirawani, Howard), Crowder 0.