Women’s basketball took an easy win against the Eastern Illinois University Panthers, going 78-62, but fell hard against the University of Tennessee at Martin Skyhawks for a final of 48-75.
Before the weekend’s games began, redshirt senior forward Micah Jones spoke to the importance of the team’s upcoming matchups in a video posted to the SIUE Cougars Facebook page.
“I think we’re extremely excited because this is an opportunity that we need to make sure that we’re not in the bottom and that we can still make it to the [conference] tournament,” Jones said in the video.
The Cougars started strong in Thursday’s matchup against the Panthers. SIUE went for 27 of 56 2-point shots and netted four out of 12 3-point attempts.
EIU had more attempts on basket than the Cougars but a weaker overall percentage of shots made, netting 25 of 58 field goals. They took only 28 rebounds to the Cougars’ 39.
Senior center Sydney Bauman tied her career-high 22 points against the Panthers, landing 11 of her 15 2-point attempts to lead the game. She first met this personal record against Austin Peay on Jan. 17.
Bauman also led the team in rebounds with 11.
Head Coach Paula Buscher commented on what set the teams apart.
“It was our start. I’ve been on these guys about coming out and not quite jumping on these people and dominating the way I feel like we need to start the game. I challenged them a little bit and I thought they did a great job,” Buscher said. “Their energy from the start of the game really got us going both on the offensive and the defensive end.”
The Cougars prevailed over the Panthers despite two of the team’s starters sitting out for much of the game due to injuries.
Toward the end of the first period, senior guard Jay’nee Alston jumped and made a 3-pointer, then fell to the ground and returned to the bench holding her back. Alston returned to the game a few minutes later but sat out the whole second period and for a majority of the fourth. Alston still totaled nine points for the game.
Jones played for 18 minutes and 53 seconds in the first half, where she racked up nine points and seven rebounds, already wearing a brace to stabilize one leg. In the final moments of the half, Jones fell onto the knee of her other leg. She did not return to the game for the second half.
Bauman spoke to the contributions of her teammates who filled in the gaps left by Alston and Jones.
“[Freshman guard] Mikia Keith came in and gave it her all, and she was outstanding. [Freshman guard] Mikala Hall had some really good minutes, and [freshman guard] Kai [Koehler] was killing it,” Bauman said.
The result of Saturday’s game against UT Martin was less positive for the Cougars. They struggled from the start to gain points on the Skyhawks, ending the first period trailing 16-10. They never picked up the pace from that point and ultimately fell to the Skyhawks by 27 points at the end of the game.
Sophomore guard/forward Allie Troeckler topped the team in points with 10. Bauman led in rebounds for the second game in a row with 10.
The team struggled with shooting, making only 17 out of 53 2-point shots to UT Martin’s 30 out of 66.
Starting the weekend against EIU the Cougars held on to eighth place in the OVC while the Panthers sat at No. 10 out of 12. After the Cougars’ one win and one loss and Eastern’s 80-54 loss against Southeast Missouri State University, both teams hold steadfast onto their places in the OVC. UT Martin currently sits at third place in the conference.
The Cougars must remain in eighth place or higher to qualify for a spot in the OVC Championships, which start on Mar. 6 in Evansville, Indiana. If they qualify this year, it will be the team’s third appearance since becoming a Division I team in 2012.
SIUE will travel to Nashville, Tennessee, this weekend to play Tennessee State University Thursday and Belmont University Saturday.