Cougars Win Back-to-Back Road Contests
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - SIUE used a 9-0 run to close out the first half and kept Southeast Missouri at a distance over the final 20 minutes Monday in a 58-43 victory at the Show Me Center.
It was the first time SIUE women's basketball has won two road contests in a row in the Amanda Levens era. The fourth-year head coach had previously had her team win two games in a row at a neutral site at last year's Florida Gulf Coast Tournament.
"I told them before that I don't know if we've ever gone on a road trip and won both games since I've been here. Both were hard fought games. SEMO is a tough team," said Levens.
The Cougars, now 10-7 overall and 4-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference, did it with tenacious defense and balanced scoring.
"It was a hard fought, gritty win," said Levens. "I'm very proud of our team. We did enough to win and a lot of people played great roles for us on both ends of the floor."
Michaela Herrod led the Cougars with 12 points and nine rebounds.
"She is probably our best active rebounder," said Levens of the Cougar junior. "She did a really good job for us tonight. Eight defensive rebounds is fantastic."
SEMO, led by Head Coach Ty Margenthaler who was a former SIUE women's assistant and two-year starter for the SIUE men's program, got off to a strong start against the Cougars. The Redhawks jumped out to a 7-0 lead before Kiara Conner put the first points on the scoreboard for SIUE with a pair of free throws with 15:12 to play in the half.
Levens said she is to the point where she doesn't worry about another team's quick start or her team's slow start to a game.
"I think I've gotten to the point where I can't worry. I would like us to start strong, but we can't necessarily control how they shoot at the beginning, but we can control how we respond," she said.
The Cougars would respond in the first half as the Redhawks committed 11 turnovers. SIUE would turn that into a 17-1 edge over the first 20 minutes in points off turnovers.
"We just talked about being solid. We saw the statistics coming in and knew they had turned the ball over a little bit. We just wanted to stay solid defensively and not try to do too much. It was a good job by our team defensively. We were very quick to the ball early," Levens said.
The Cougars held a 31-18 lead at halftime by making a 9-0 run to end the half. Hempen scored on a three-pointer and Herrod added the final three baskets, including one just as the buzzer ended the half.
Levens credited SEMO, now 4-15 overall and 1-5 in the OVC, for not allowing the Cougars to run away with the game in the second half. Brittany Harriel led the charge for SEMO with 13 points and 10 rebounds followed by 12 points from Courtney Shiffer.
SIUE shot 40.7 percent (22-54) from the field and was 73.3 percent (11-15) from the free throw line. SEMO finished the game shooting 32.7 percent from the field (16-49). The Redhawks struggled from three-point range to hit just six percent (1-16).
The Cougars now return home for two games at the Vadalabene Center. SIUE plays Murray State Saturday at 1 p.m. and Austin Peay at 7 p.m. Monday.