For those that didn’t realize MSU still had a women’s basketball team, this is their first conference championship since 1929 when the team was called the Lady Thoroughbreds and playing in the Mississippi Valley Conference.
The Murray State program saw some success in the late 80’s and early 90’s before falling on hard times. In 2003 MSU started a rebuilding project hiring Joi Felton to take over a program that was in need of a new direction. Felton would rebuild the program and take them to the OVC Championship game a year ago before moving on to another school.
MSU Athletic Director Allen Ward moved quickly to secure a new head coach for the Racers so as not to lose the momentum gained over the passed season. The Racers hired a young assistant coach from Southern Illinois University named Jody Adams. At first many in the Murray community wondered who she was. Then her bio came to light and many realized Murray hired a woman with a winning background. Coach Adams had been a member of the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers basketball teams in the early ninety’s that had won 4 SEC titles and the 90-91 NCAA National Championship.
Over the past weekend Nashville played host to several college post-season basketball tournaments. Of those, two women’s basketball tournaments will be of historic precedent as the Murray State Racers coached by former Lady Vol Jody Adams would win the school’s first tournament championship and her mentor, Pat Summit, would win her eight SEC women’s championship as head coach of the Lady Vols just a day later and a few blocks away.
On Friday afternoon the Racers would take on the Lady Bulldogs of Samford University from Birmingham, Alabama. This Racers team took to this season with the goal to win the whole thing. Their 2007 tournament run was ended by Southeast Missouri State in the championship game with a two-point loss.
The Racers jumped out in front of Samford early in this game and took a 36-21 lead into half time playing a gritty defensive game on the boards. “The way we started, we weren’t shooting well, but it’s like I told our team before we started the game: this game was going to be about our defense and our rebounding. They didn’t focus on the missed shots at the start of the game, they focused on digging in defensively and boarding the ball. Then the shots started falling and we were able to jump out to a big lead.” Coach Adams remarked on the first half of the game.
For the rest of this story, read this week's Cadiz Record.