SIUE ended Eastern Illinois Universi-
ty’s 13-game win streak on Saturday.
The game opened with a strong showing from Eastern. They scored 9 points in the first five minutes, with SIUE scoring none. Despite the speed of this buildup, the next minute of the game almost foreshadowed what was to come. It took Eastern 5 minutes to score 9 points, but SIUE scored 7 in less than 90 seconds. The score was 7-9, with four minutes remaining in the first quarter.
As the clock wound down, Eastern doubled their score and then some, with
SIUE scoring no more points until senior forward Ajulu Thatha scored a 3-pointer at :11, assisted by freshman guard Macy Silvey.
At the end of the quarter, Eastern had a 12-point lead over SIUE, which
was more than double their score. In the first two minutes, Thatha and Eastern both scored a basket and two foul line shots each. A missed 3-pointer from sophomore guard Sofie Lowis gave junior forward Madison Webb the chance for a rebound and a layup in the paint.
Eastern followed this with a three-pointer. Junior forward Olivia Clayton made two shots from the foul line, but Eastern scored a layup shortly after, at 5:57.
SIUE continued to keep up with Eastern, with their lead wavering around 12 points over SIUE. However, things changed around 4:30. Sophomore guard Molly Sheehan assisted senior guard Mikayla Kinnard with a layup. Then, after a quick missed shot from Eastern, Silvey scored a 3-pointer in less than 20 seconds.
Eastern missed two shots at the foul line, but Thatha, who was given two shots immediately after, made both of hers. Across the entire game, SIUE only missed two foul line shots..
Less than 15 seconds later, she assisted Kinnard with a layup. The score was now 27-35, the closest they had been throughout the game.
SIUE’s scoring run was broken by a single foul line shot from Eastern. However, keeping the pressure on, Silvey scored another 3-pointer at 2:42, with an assist from Lowis.
In the end of the second quarter, Eastern scored a few baskets in an attempt
to regain control of the game, but senior guard KK Rodriguez and Kinnard got
SIUE some points of their own.
Eastern’ lead had dwindled down to five points. With two quarters to go, the air in the crowd was tense.
At 9:35, Eastern scored one basket at the foul line, but Thatha and Clayton both had layups roughly half a minute apart to shrink the Eastern lead even more.
At 8:27, Eastern again made one foul line shot, but again, SIUE kept up, with
a jump shot from Silvey. The score was now 44-43. The next three minutes of the game were a gridlock, with neither side making a basket, but both sides getting chances.
The gridlock culminated in a chaotic series of multiple foul line shots and baskets from both sides. When the dust cleared, the score was tied at 48 points each, with four minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Eastern scored a foul line shot and a layup to keep their lead going, but Kinnard scored a jump shot. At 2:06, Eastern scored two more foul shots, but Rodriguez scored two as well right after. Eastern had a 1-point lead, which was broken by a 3-pointer from Lowis, which gave SIUE the lead for the first time in the game.
The victory was brief, as Eastern scored a jump shot less than 30 seconds
after, tying the scores again at 55. For the rest of the quarter, the teams were
gridlocked once again. Within the first minute of the fourth quarter, Kinnard rebounded off of a missed jump shot from Rodriguez and scored a layup.
SIUE had a lead that they were deter-
mined to keep.
Two foul shots from Eastern tied the game again, but a layup from Kinnard again. Eastern got a third set of chances at the foul line, but this time, only made one. This let Thatha rebound the ball and open Clayton up for a layup.
The back-and-forth continued, as Eastern tied at 61, but Kinnard brought
SIUE to 65 points with two layups. But, again, Eastern scored two baskets to
tie it up yet again. There were roughly five minutes left, and either team could retake the game.
At the 5-minute mark, Eastern had a very strong scoring run, scoring five points in less than a minute.
However two 3-pointers from Silvey less than one minute apart gave SIUE a 1-point lead. A jump shot from Thatha and one from Kinnard strengthened the lead. This game was a season-high for Kinnard in points scored.
Despite a jump shot at 1:29 and a 3-pointer with less than 20 seconds on the clock, a smattering of foul shots from SIUE kept the lead up, and ended the game with 82-77. Eastern’ undefeated conference run was over.
Chancellor James Minor was present at the game, and once the final buzzer sounded, he stood up from the press table and turned around, motioning for the audience to get to their feet as well to celebrate the triumphant victory.
After this match, Eastern continued to lose other games against Southeast
Missouri State and Kansas City. This brought their conference score to 13-3.
The women’s basketball team’s next game is Thursday at 4 p.m. against
University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
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