Historic Season Comes to Close for Cougars
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - SIUE's appearance in the Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI) came to an end in the first round as Wright State upended the Cougars 73-64 at the Vadalabene Center.
SIUE, the No. 4 seed in the West bracket, had four players in double figures but were unable to push past the fifth-seeded Raiders.
"I am so proud of our team. I thought we fought, competed, and did everything we could, but Wright State, tonight, they were a better team," said SIUE Head Coach Amanda Levens.
Raven Berry led SIUE in its first Division I postseason tournament with 17 points and eight rebounds. The Cougars also picked up 10 points each from Courtney Kenner, Michaela Herrod, and Katie Hempen.
Wright State, 21-12, advanced to play the winner of the Seattle-North Dakota game.
The Raiders scored all of their points from the starters. Kim Demmings, the Freshman of the Year in the Horizon League, led all scorers with 20 points. She was followed by 18 each from Shaunda Sandifer and Courtney Boyd as well as 15 from Molly Fox.
Both teams struggled from the field with the Cougars shooting 30.3 percent (23-76) while the Raiders shot just 37.5 percent (24-64).
"We did not make enough shots to win. We got some great looks in the second half, and that was the difference. I don't feel as though we lost it as much as they won it," Levens said.
SIUE, which finished the season with an 18-12 record, took a season-high 31 three-pointers. The Cougars would hit eight, including two each from Hempen, Courtney Kenner, and Tierny Austin.
"For our team, they need to understand that if you are playing right now, you are very good. Whoever you draw, in whatever tournament you are in, everybody is going to be really good," said Levens.
Wright State and SIUE were toe to toe in the first half with the Raiders holding a 29-28 edge at halftime. Herrod put the Cougars ahead early in the second half with back-to-back buckets as SIUE led 32-31 with 18:49 play.
The two teams exchanged quick six-point runs, and SIUE would have its final lead of the second half at 14:15 when Kiara Conner hit a layup in the paint.
The Raiders then went on a 9-0 run over the next three minutes capped off by a three-pointer by Boyd to put Wright State up 48-40.
SIUE didn't back down and battled back to tie the score 54-54 with 5:33 to play after a pair of three-pointers by Kenner and Hempen. Demmings would score five of the next six points in the game, and the Raiders kept the Cougars at bay by hitting 11 of 12 free throws over the final 64 seconds of the game.
"If we want to protect our home floor and make this a tough place to play, we are going to have to shoot it better at home," said Levens.