Cougars Shock Eastern Illinois
CHARLESTON - Raven Berry pumped in 15 points and grabbed a career-high 22 rebounds as SIUE women's basketball stunned Eastern Illinois 59-54 Saturday.
The Cougars, now 16-9 overall and 10-4 in the Ohio Valley Conference, handed Eastern Illinois its first loss of the season at Lantz Gym and demoted the Panthers to second place in the Ohio Valley Conference. EIU slipped to 21-6 overall and 12-2 in the OVC, one-half game behind UT Martin which plays at Southeast Missouri later tonight.
"We just want to feel good about our effort," said SIUE Head Coach Amanda Levens. "Today was a game of execution. Our team really executed our defensive game plan." Freshman Katie Hempen iced the game with four seconds left when she made a pair of free throws to make it a two-possession game and give SIUE its fifth straight road victory in the OVC.
"She (Hempen) wants the ball in that situation," said Levens. "As we build our program, we now have a lot of players who want the ball in that situation."
Jazmin Hill led SIUE in scoring with 18 points, including four three-pointers. It was the 10th time this season that she has hit four or more three-pointers in a game.
"We missed shots that we normally make, but we got big baskets down the stretch by Jazmin and Raven. Everyone contributed in the win. Katie had huge free throws at the end," said Levens.
The Cougars shot 32.3 percent (20-62) from the field for the game. EIU, meanwhile, shot a season-low 30.6 percent (19-62) from the field.
SIUE went into the locker room at halftime down 28-22, but Levens said she felt comfortable with the situation.
"If we can keep it (the score) in the 50s, we feel like we always have a chance. Even if we don't shoot well, we can score 50 points," she said.
The Cougars didn't disappoint the fans who made the two-hour trip to Charleston. SIUE went on an 18-3 run to open the second half and pulled out to a nine-point lead. SIUE would not surrender the lead after the 17:53 mark of the second half when Berry scored a bucket in the paint.
EIU's Ta'Kenya Nixon was the lone Panther in double figures. She scored a game-high 19 points and dished out six assists. Nixon also tied for the team lead in rebound at eight with Chantelle Mitchell.
As for rebounding, it seemed like Berry was grabbing everything. The Cougar junior was one rebound shy of tying the school record of 23 set by Kathy Going in 1979 and Kim Lowe in 1998.
"She played great," said Levens of Berry. "Fourteen defensive rebounds - that's huge. Michaela Herrod had nine also. Between the two of them having that many, it means so much to our team."
Berry leaped past Julianne McMillen Saturday to become No. 4 on the all-time rebounds list with 682. The Collinsville native needs 18 more to become the fourth player to have 700 career rebounds and 25 more points to become the 20th player in school history to record 1,000 career points.
SIUE used the offensive glass to its advantage against EIU, grabbing 17 rebounds and turning it into 20 points. EIU scored just seven points of its 14 offensive rebounds.
"At this point, we're not surprising anybody. We're going to get everyone's best shot. We have a very tough road trip coming up," said Levens.
SIUE begins its final road trip in OVC play by closing out league action at Eastern Kentucky Thursday and Morehead State Saturday.