EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – A quick start sent the SIUE Cougars to a convincing 76-40 victory over Air Force in their women's basketball home opener Friday at the Vadalabene Center.
The Cougars scored the game's first 15 points and never looked back in improving to 1-1. Air Force, which didn't score for nearly the first six minutes of the game, made only 18 of 69 shots overall and fell to 0-3.
"I was proud of our energy to start the game," SIUE Head Coach Paula Buscher said. "We did a great job defensively and what you saw tonight is the way we can play this season. We have a lot of players who can do different things."
Senior Donshel Beck and junior Sydney Bauman led the way. Beck, honored before the game for becoming the 24th SIUE player to score 1,000 career points, punched in a team-best 13 points. Bauman snared 15 rebounds and contributed 11 points for her fourth career double-double. Freshman Christen King pitched in 10 points.
No fewer than a dozen Cougars scored as SIUE made 23 of 52 shots, including 4 of 11 from three-point range. The Cougars also converted 26 of 39 free throws and outrebounded Air Force 57-33. SIUE led 33-14 at half and once owned a 38-point advantage in the second half.
"Our transition game helped a lot, and we communicated well," Beck said. "I think we did great."
Beck enjoyed the pre-game ceremony, where she was awarded a basketball for her scoring milestone.
"It was a great honor, and I was very grateful for it," Beck said.
Buscher added, "It was a pretty special night for Donnie and to have her family here to celebrate it and share it with her. I know it means something special to her."
SIUE Director of Athletics Dr. Brad Hewitt, Donshel Beck and Head Coach Paula Buscher
Bauman's work at both ends of the court also was something special.
"Sydney played really well and worked together with Donnie on our high and low post game," Buscher noted.
Bauman said, "We played with a lot of intensity and got our offense going. We really battled tonight."
Courtney Porter's 13 points led Air Force, which has lost 57 of its last 62 games. The Falcons were 4-25 last season.
A couple of rivalry games are next on SIUE's schedule. The Cougars welcome Saint Louis University at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Vadalabene Center and then travel to SIU Carbondale for a 6 p.m. contest Monday, Nov. 27.
"Both of them are very good teams, so we have our work cut out for us," Buscher said.