Four players scored in double figures and the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville women’s basketball team shot a season-best 51.6 percent from the field as the Cougars earned a 78-70 road victory at Western Illinois.
It was the fourth straight win for the Cougars against the Leathernecks. SIUE improved to 3-9 for the season while Western Illinois dropped to 5-6.
“I really feel like we competed tonight,” said SIUE Head Coach Paula Buscher. “The defense was much better. We got a lot of good play from several players.”
Buscher said the win was much needed at the end of a seven-game road swing.
“It’s been a long, hard road trip,” Buscher said. “I’m really proud of this team to come back and play with intensity. They stepped up and held a good Western Illinois team to 70 points.”
Micah Jones nearly recorded her first double-double with a game-high 16 points. The Cougar freshman added nine rebounds while shooting 8 of 13 from the field. Jones agreed with Buscher that a win at Western Hall was important.
“It’s pretty huge,” said Jones. “We needed it, and I think we’re going to build from that.”
SIUE scored a season-high 54 points in the paint and finished with 16 assists for the fourth time this season.
Tierny Austin did turn in a double-double, her second of the season and the fourth in her career. The junior scored 15 points and pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds.
Buscher said Austin’s energy was contagious for her teammates. She dove into the second row of the stands once and made hustling on the defensive end a priority.
“I just wanted to set an example so people could feed off of it,” said Austin. “We put a lot of energy into getting stops. We competed tonight.”
Jessie Wendt and CoCo Moore were the other two players scoring in double figures for the Cougars with 14 and 11 points, respectively.
“We needed this because we needed to see what happens when we go all out and play as hard as we did tonight,” said Buscher.
The Cougars shot 51.6 percent for the game (33-64) and hit 5 of 10 from three-point range. SIUE also won the battle on the boards with a 46-35 advantage in rebounds.
SIUE’s defense held Western Illinois to 35.2 percent shooting, the lowest for the Cougars since the team’s opening game against Missouri. Ashley Luke was the lone player in double figures for the Leathernecks. She finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds.
The Cougars held a 41-34 advantage at halftime behind 10 points from Wendt.
Western Illinois got back into the game early in the second half. Michelle Maher’s three-pointer with 15:20 left in the game tied the game at 43-43.
The Leathernecks would have two short-lived leads in the second half before SIUE went on a 14-1 run that put SIUE up by 12 with 8:18 left to play.
The Cougars now have nine days to savor their victory. SIUE begins the Ohio Valley Conference season at home Dec. 28 against Belmont at 2 p.m. It will be the first of three straight OVC games at the Vadalabene Center.