Butts makes SIUE history, Cougars suffer loss to Racers

Redshirt senior guard Shronda Butts became the 22nd player in school history to score 1,000 points, despite a three-point loss to the Murray State University Racers.

Despite two recent tough losses and being knocked out of first place in the Ohio Valley Conference, Head Coach Paula Buscher said her confidence in the Cougars has not wavered.

“I thought it was a good battle. This team is a good team, and we will bounce back. I've got a ton of confidence that the kids in the locker room will not feel sorry for themselves. They'll get back to work,” Buscher said.

Butts attributed the Cougars’ faltering to the amount of turnovers during their competition against the Racers.

“I think we had too many turnovers, and I think that killed us, especially late in the game when we needed the score and we turned over the ball,” Butts said.

The Racers controlled the tip and hit a deep three that Butts and sophomore forward Gwen Adams answered with transition baskets. Sophomore guard Donshel Beck scored the Cougars’ next six points, assisted by Butts and senior guard CoCo Moore. Sophomore forward Ke’Shunan James scored three straight baskets and a buzzer beating three-pointer to end the first period with a 20-19 Cougar lead.

A hot offensive start for SIUE, a put-back after the offensive rebound by Butts and three-point play from Beck gave the Cougars a quick six-point lead after the break. A Racer basket and three-pointer by Racer forward Abria Gulledge cut the deficit to one. A pair of MSU free throws gave the Racers their first lead since early in the opening period. With the Cougars in foul trouble, the Racers were able to extend their lead to 38-33 to close the half.

Butts led the Cougars with 14 points followed by Beck with 11. Adams had three points while adding three assists and two steals. The Cougars shot nearly 52 percent, but committed 13 turnovers in the first 20 minutes of play.

The Cougars struck first in the second half off a three-pointer from the top of the key by Butts. The teams traded baskets until Moore stole the ball near midcourt and finished with an uncontested layup.

An SIUE defensive stand led to another three-point play by Beck, and the Cougars once again took the lead. The teams traded baskets for the final five minutes of the third period, and a last-second Racer layup put MSU up 57-56 heading into the fourth period.

The Racers threatened to go on a run early in the fourth quarter, scoring four points in the quarter’s opening minute. A corner three from Butts brought the Cougars within two points of the Racers. A controversial foul sent MSU to the free throw line, where they were able to extend their lead to five with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation.

Butts scored her 1000th point on a contested jumper that cut the Racer lead to three points.

With two minutes to play, MSU led the Cougars by five points. SIUE got the ball back with one minute left in play, and Moore hit a midrange bank shot to pull within three points of the Racers.

After an SIUE timeout, Moore stole the inbound pass, and Beck put up the layup that brought SIUE within one point of MSU with 25 seconds remaining.

SIUE fouled following an MSU timeout and sent Racer guard Jasmine Borders to the free throw line. Borders made both attempts to put the Racers up 79-76, and Buscher was forced to call a timeout.

Beck committed an offensive foul on the inbound pass and gave MSU the ball with 11.2 seconds left to play. The Cougars fouled again, and the Racers missed both free throws.

Moore raced down the floor in the game's closing seconds and passed the ball to sophomore guard Sidney Smith. On a controversial no-call, Smith was stripped and MSU held the ball to end the game at 79-76.

Buscher said the Cougars have not yet reached their full potential, but that is what she wants.

“You see little bits and pieces, but I don’t think we are playing our best basketball yet. That’s a good thing because it still means we have steps to take,” Buscher said.

The Cougars will play host to Austin Peay University at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17 in the Vadalabene Center.

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