Berry, Duncan Lead Cougars to OT Victory
Nov. 12, 2011
Berry made two crucial free throws with 7.8 seconds in regulation to put the Cougars up by three points before Valparaiso's Mallory Ladd sent the game into overtime with a three-pointer with 0.6 seconds left to tie the score at 58 apiece
SIUE Head Coach Amanda Levens kept it simple in pumping her team up in overtime. "I said, `Go out and win the game.' I was really fired up. We said to go out and find a way to get it done."
The Cougars did not have much offense from Berry, a junior, but got it when it counted. Without a field goal in regulation, her game picked up in the overtime period as she gathered two balls in the paint and gave the Cougars a four-point lead one minute into the period.
"I thought our response in overtime was fantastic," said Levens. "Raven came out and was really hungry. When she plays like that our team is very good."
Valparaiso, 0-1, fought back with a pair of free throws by Gina Lange and a bucket by Shaquira Scott to tie the game again, 62-62.
Duncan, a senior guard, took over the offense for the Cougars in overtime with a three-pointer from the corner and a 19-foot two-pointer with just less than two minutes to play. Duncan and Berry each collected key rebounds down the stretch as the Cougars held off the Crusaders.
"Melia had a big game. She hit some big shots," Levens noted.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Tierny Austin and Duncan closed out the first half as the Cougars went to the locker room with a six-point lead. SIUE would enjoy its biggest lead of the game at nine points when Hill put SIUE up 36-27 on a three-pointer 13 seconds into the second half.
SIUE never relinquished the lead in the game, which was tied eight times.
"We have to learn to put the nail in the coffin and not let them claw their way back in," said Levens.
Both teams held distinctive edges in several statistical categories.
SIUE held its advantage in three-pointers, steals, and turnovers. Duncan and Jazmin Hill each hit four three-pointers as SIUE outmatched Valparaiso 10-2 in three-pointers. The Cougars turned the ball over just 12 times and grabbed 13 steals while the Crusaders turned the ball over 25 times.
Valparaiso displayed its strength on the boards with a 43-26 advantage in rebounding. Scott finished with 18 points and six rebounds. Lange scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Duncan opened her senior season with a strong offensive effort, shooting 6 of 10 from the field and scoring a team-high 16 points. Hill scored 14 points while Michaela Herrod added 12. Austin, a freshman, debuted with 12 points off the bench with 5-of-5 shooting, including a pair of three pointers. Courtney Kenner scored four points, but dished out a career-best and game-high eight assists.
"Tierny is unique," Levens said. "She finds a way to get her hands on the ball and come up with it."
The Cougars have four days to prepare for its second straight opponent at the Vadalabene Center. SIUE entertains Ball State in a 7 p.m. contest Wednesday.
"We are going to break down the film and feel good about the win, but at the same time we know there is a lot we have to get better at before we play Ball State," Levens said.