In their first home games of 2018, the women’s basketball team fell to the Belmont University Bruins, but bounced back three days later to defeat the Tennessee State University Tigers. 

After the two games, the Cougars’ overall record settled at 8-9, and their conference record 5-1.

SIUE’s first conference loss to the Bruins came Wednesday night after a disappointing start to the game. The Cougars attempted to come back in the second half, but fell short of the mark in the 72-55 defeat. 

Head Coach Paula Buscher credited the loss to the Cougars coming out flat at the beginning of the game.

“I didn’t like how we started the game. I thought the biggest part of it was 13 turnovers in the first half,” Buscher said.

The 13 turnovers led to the Cougars trailing Belmont 37-19 at halftime. Despite the bad start, SIUE still came out in the third quarter and outscored the Bruins 19-11.

“The third quarter was the team we want to be,” Buscher said.

Most SIUE three-pointers couldn’t find the bottom of the net, but Belmont’s three-point shots proved to be crucial to their win, scoring 12 of 33 from beyond the arc. 

SIUE was led in scoring by senior guard Donshel Beck with 18, redshirt senior guard Lauren White with 11 and senior forward/center Gwen Adams with 10.

With their first conference loss behind them, the Cougars moved on to Saturday, where they picked up their fifth conference win against the TSU Tigers. 

“We all came together after the game [against Belmont], and we knew what happened and we knew what the problem was, and then we fixed it in this game,” Beck said.

The changes definitely showed for the Cougars, who had five players with 10 or more points in the 74-63 win. Beck, White and Adams all had their second consecutive double digit performance with 17, 13 and 11 points, respectively. Junior guard Jay’Nee Alston also contributed with 12, along with freshman guard Zaria Whitlock, who had 10.

SIUE also hit 28 out of 34 free throws, which added to their steady lead. Buscher said the consistent free throws along with the well-rounded roster helped lead the Cougars to their victory. 

“I thought we had an awful lot of people that contributed, and I still think that’s one of our strengths,” Buscher said.

Alston sunk two three-pointers in the game and said she helped by aiming to play slowly and with control against the Tigers, who normally play quickly and aggressively.

“My focus was not to play their game, but play our game,” Alston said.

After the victory, the Cougars will continue their four-game home stand Wednesday, Jan. 17 against Southeast Missouri State University and Saturday, Jan. 20 against University of Tennessee at Martin in the Vadalabene Center.

“It was a great bounce back win, and I want them obviously to enjoy this one, and then we’ll get back to work on Monday,” Buscher said.


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