The Cougars scored the game's final nine points to defeat Jacksonville State 69-62 in a key Ohio Valley Conference contest. SIUE, which has won five of its last six games, improved to 10-14 and 6-5 in the OVC. Jacksonville State dropped to 10-13 and 3-8.
"I'm proud of our team, the way we picked it up in the second half, especially with our rebounding," SIUE Head Coach Paula Buscher said. "We didn't play our best in our last game against Belmont, but we needed to move on to our next game. I'm happy how we responded."
Belmont ended SIUE's four-game winning streak 94-67 Wednesday, but the Cougars were poised to start another string of victories. Lauren White, a redshirt junior from Edwardsville, led the way with 19 points, one shy of her career best. Donshel Beck, a junior forward from St. Louis, contributed 17 points while collecting six rebounds and six assists. Micah Jones, a redshirt junior forward from Cowden, Illinois, punched in 13 points and snared eight rebounds to highlight the special day dedicated to breast cancer survivors.
"It's a huge win to get because we weren't ourselves in the game against Belmont," Beck said. "So this is a pretty good win."
White and Beck were in the middle of things during SIUE's late charge. White sank a pair of free throws with 1:31 to remaining to knot things at 62-62.
Then Beck went to work. She came up with a steal and subsequent layups to give the Cougars a 64-62 advantage with 51 seconds to go. Beck then fed Amri Wilder on a snazzy play that resulted in a layup 15 seconds later.
Jones added a free throw, and Gwen Adams converted two more in the final 21 seconds to ensure the win.
"Lauren keeps attacking and taking it to the basket, and Donshel is just being Donshel," Buscher said, marveling at their overall play. "Micah Jones has come off the bench and been a huge addition with the way she has played."
Beck added, "Lauren and I go 100 miles per hour. We've been preaching to Micah to come out and play hard, and she has been doing that. It was a tough game, but we needed that kind of fight today. You have to fight hard every game."
Adams (eight points) and Wilder (seven points) also made their contributions to the cause. The Cougars hit 25 of 57 shots, though only 1 of 8 from 3-point land. However, they sank 18 of 21 free throws, outrebounded Jacksonville State 38-34 and recorded 19 assists in their victory.
Four players scored in double figures for Jacksonville State. Rayven Pearson led the defensive-minded Gamecocks with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
"Jacksonville State is a team that keeps grinding and coming back at you," Buscher said. "So we wanted to play with more confidence and we did that."
The Cougars hit the road for a game at Southeast Missouri (Feb. 8) before they return home to welcome UT Marin (Feb. 11) and Austin Peay (Feb. 15). Both of those home games are scheduled for 7 p.m.