Micah Jones scored a game-high 18 points, including 14 in the second half, as SIUE women’s basketball won its final nonconference matchup of the season with a 59-54 victory over NJIT Monday night at the Vadalabene Center.
Jones shot 6 of 11 from the field and hit 6 of 8 free throws. The Cougar freshman grabbed nine rebounds and picked off a season-best six steals.
SIUE improved to 6-17 while the visiting Highlanders dropped to 5-20.
“The important thing about this game is that we finished it out at the end,” said SIUE Head Coach Paula Buscher. “They pressured us late, but we kept our poise and took care of the game late.”
The Cougars led by as many as 18 points in the first half. Ashley Capotosto scored all 10 of her points in the first half off the bench.
“We did a good job being aggressive and getting to the line,” said Capotosto. “We need to continue doing that.”
SIUE sprinted out to a 12-3 lead on a three-pointer by senior Jazmin Hill four minutes into the game. NJIT would call its first time out, but the Cougars kept plugging away, extending the lead to 18 with 10:57 to play on a jumper by Alexis Chappelle.
“When you lose some games like we have, there’s some self-doubt that creeps in,” said Buscher. “We have to push that to the back of our minds and remember that we’re a good basketball team. We just need to keep playing.”
The Highlanders pushed back in the second half behind 15 points from Shakia Robinson and 12 from Martina Matejcikova. SIUE was aggressive to the basket, garnering an 18-for-24 effort for the game at the free throw line and leaving four NJIT players with four fouls by the end of the game.
“Like any other game, we had some really strong moments and some moments where we have to improve. We need to keep improving every day,” Buscher said.
NJIT came within two points with 2:30 to play on a three-pointer by Kim Tullis and again on a three-pointer with 1:12 to play from Matejcikova.
SIUE took care of free throws late as Chappelle hit two with 9.9 seconds left and Jones added another with 1.4 seconds left.
“Hopefully this win gives us a little momentum, and we’re going to need it because UT Martin is a heck of a team, and they’re coming in here next.”
UT Martin visits the Vadalabene Center Saturday for a 4 p.m. Ohio Valley Conference contest.