The women’s basketball team fell to the Valparaiso University Crusaders Saturday, Dec 19 in Valparaiso, Ind. The loss dropped the Cougars’ record to 5-7, leaving them with one game of nonconference play.

A strong Cougar start looked promising, as they hit five of their six shots to take a 10-0 lead. A series of fouls allowed the Crusaders to get back in the game, and take a 33-32 lead at halftime.

Head Coach Paula Buscher said the team took an offensive advantage in the first period, but were plagued by foul trouble.

“We got off to a good lead. We were shooting the ball well and moving the ball extremely well in the offensive end. Then we got ourselves into foul trouble,” Buscher said.

Valparaiso grabbed 12 offensive rebounds that it turned into 17 second-chance points. The Cougars finished with 12 offensive rebounds as well, but were only able to convert them into five points.

The Crusaders dominated the glass, out rebounding SIUE 50-31 on the game. Valparaiso also shot 55 percent from the floor in the second half.

Buscher said she needs to find a steady lineup, for a collaborative defense when fouls limit players.

“The bottom line is we have to step up and defend. I don’t think we defended them like we need to as a team. We have the desire to be a better rebounding team. I have to do a better job finding a more consistent lineup when we get into foul trouble,” Buscher said.

Redshirt senior Shronda Butts scored 22 points with seven assists. Butts also had four of the Cougars’ season-high 16 steals.

After Valparaiso, SIUE traveled to Mount Pleasant, Mich. on Monday, Dec. 21 to take on the Central Michigan University Chippewas.

The teams traded baskets in the first half, and the Cougars headed into the locker room with a 33-26 lead.

Senior guard CoCo Moore scored nine points in the first half of play. Butts also added seven points while sophomore forward Gwen Adams pulled down three rebounds.

As the fourth quarter began, SIUE was hanging on to a 57-55 lead that was quickly erased, as the Chippewas opened the period with a 16-2 run.

Buscher said the team froze in the fourth period, and their play became inconsistent with the first three periods.

“We stopped moving and doing everything that we had been doing for three periods. We found breakdowns in their defense, and then all of a sudden we were stagnant,” Buscher said.

Central Michigan landed 12 three-pointers, the most allowed by a Cougar opponent this season.

Adams ended the game as the leading Cougar scorer, with 14 points. Moore and freshman center Sydney Bauman finished the game with nine rebounds each, while Butts snagged eight rebounds.

Central Michigan was the Cougars’ last game of nonconference play.

SIUE opens its Ohio Valley Conference on Dec. 31 against Jacksonville State.

Buscher said the team did not play to their potential in the nonconference portion of their schedule, but OVC play gives them a fresh start.

“We don’t think we played to our abilities during the nonconference season, and now we have to learn from that. Now, it starts 0-0; it’s a new season now,” Buscher said.

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