Freshman Alexis Chappelle drained four free throws in the final 13 seconds Saturday, sealing SIUE’s 71-67 victory over Murray State in Ohio Valley Conference women’s basketball at the Vadalabene Center.
“I wasn’t thinking about much (during the free throws),” Chappelle said following the win. “I just wanted to go up to the line and knock them down.”
The Cougars snapped a four-game losing streak to improve to 2-4 in the OVC. SIUE is 5-13 overall. Murray State dropped to 8-9 overall and 1-4 in conference play.
Chappelle’s first two free throws extended the Cougars’ lead to 69-65 with 13 seconds left. Murray State’s Nikia Edom hit her own two free throws to move the Racers back within two with just more than five seconds left. Chappelle was fouled following the inbound play and drained the final two free throws with 4.7 seconds remaining for the final margin.
“Alexis showed some toughness to play through illness and hit some huge free throws at the end,” SIUE Head Coach Paula Buscher said. “She stayed calm and stayed poised.”
The Cougars raced out to an 11-0 lead Saturday with four different players providing the points during the opening run. Tierny Austin opened the scoring with a 3-pointer just 46 seconds into the game. CoCo Moore hit back-to-back layups before Micah Jones and Chappelle each scored.
“I loved our energy to start the game,” Buscher added. “It was tough for our players to get into a flow because of all the stoppages, but I thought we still managed to play well defensively.”
Murray State used its own 11-0 run to even the score with a Jashae Lee basket with 14:36 to play before halftime.
The score was tied six more times during the first 20 minutes of play. It was 29-29 with 2:45 to go before the break when Murray State’s Julia Fox had a personal 4-0 run to give the Racers a 33-29 advantage at halftime.
The two teams traded the lead twice and were tied four times over the first nine-plus minutes in the second half. Ashley Capotosto hit a jumper with 10:33 to play to tie the game at 45. With 9:08 left Capotosto gave SIUE the lead for good. She added a free throw with 8:51 left to cap off a personal 5-0 run and extend the Cougars’ lead to 48-45.
“Ashley is an all-energy player,” Buscher said of the Cougar junior. “They weren’t respecting her shot from the high post so I just told her to flash and score. She played confident and had a great game.”
SIUE built its lead to six three different times from that point forward. Jones drained a pair of free throws with 7:44 left to put the Cougars up 52-46. A layup by Austin with 3:23 left made it 61-55. Jones rolled in a layup with 1:56 to play to make it 67-61. Murray State got as close as two points on two different occasions but never could close the gap.
Austin led SIUE with 17 points. She was 7 of 11 from the field. She added seven rebounds. Jones finished a rebound shy of a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds. Capotosto was a point shy of her own double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.
Freshmen Janssen Starks and Julia Fox were the only players to score in double figures for the Racers. Starks finished with a game-high 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including 5 of 7 from three-point range. Fox scored 15 points. Starks and Fox accounted for more than half of the Racers’ made baskets. They were 23 of 66 as a team from the field.
SIUE remains home for a Monday night matchup with Austin Peay. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.