EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – The SIUE women's basketball team gave Head Coach Paula Buscher a milestone win in front of a record and lively crowd Thursday afternoon at the Vadalabene Center.
The Cougars defeated Tennessee Tech 65-58 in an Ohio Valley Conference game for their ninth win in their last 11 games and provided Buscher with her 300th career victory.
"Getting 300 wins means I have had a lot of great players who have played for me," said Buscher, also earning her 90th win in six years at SIUE. "It's really all about the kids."
The Cougars improved to 12-10 overall and 9-2 in the OVC by winning again on the annual Field Trip Day sponsored by Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery of Roxana, Ill. They are 3-0 on that day and this year's win came in front of a record crowd of 3,875.
"We need Field Trip Day every week," Buscher quipped.
Donshel Beck scored a team-best 19 points and Lauren White contributed 13 points to propel the Cougars, who came out quickly. They led 20-11 at the end of the first quarter and 35-23 at halftime before Tennessee Tech made a second-half run at them. The Golden Eagles, who cut the Cougars' lead to five points in the final minute, dropped to 4-18 overall and 1-10 in the OVC.
"We got a little too comfortable in the fourth quarter," Beck said.
The SIUE players wanted to make it as comfortable as possible for Buscher on her big day. Her first collegiate win came in November 1997 when she coached at Mankato State, Minn., now Minnesota State.
"I'm excited for coach because she's humble about it," Beck said. "That's the amazing part of it."
White added, "Congratulations to Coach Buscher. It's really good for her."
The enthusiastic crowd proved good for the Cougars in supplying them with a positive vibe, Beck and White said.
"We really enjoying the kids coming out to the game because it creates a great atmosphere for us, and we can feed off it," White said.
Beck, who moved into the No. 8 spot on the SIUE career scoring list with 1,298 points, noted: "It's really fun and exciting to play in front of a large crowd. They get excited, and we get excited."
Buscher said, "The marketing department did a great job with this (promotion) and the kids gave us a lot of energy."
Gwen Adams collected nine points, Elina Berzina netted eight points and White snared nine rebounds for SIUE, which made 25 of 66 shots. The Cougars were 4 of 16 on three-pointers, sank 11 of 14 free throws and were outrebounded 41-39. Tennessee Tech, led by MacKenzie's Coleman 22 points, made 19 of 54 shots, with 4 of 19 from three-point land. The Golden Eagles converted 16 of 22 free throws. They closed in on the Cougars near the end of the game, but SIUE refused to wilt, Buscher said. SIUE once led 46-28 in the second half and 48-33 after three quarters.
"I'm not crazy about the fourth quarter, but we did the little things to close out the game," Buscher said.
The Cougars continue their four-game homestand Saturday when they welcome Jacksonville State at 6 p.m. Next Eastern Illinois (7 p.m. on Feb. 7) and Murray State (6 p.m. on Feb. 10) come calling to the Vadalabene Center.