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Panthers Take Round Two Over Cougars 74-53

CHARLESTON, Ill - After falling in overtime in the first meeting, the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville women's basketball team lost 74-53 at Eastern Illinois Thursday night from Lantz Arena.

Freshman Valerie Finnin opened the scoring for the Cougars draining a three-point basket on their opening possession but Ta'Kenya Nixon put the Panthers in front with EIU's first eight points.

After a Melia Duncan three-pointer, the Panthers scored the game's next five points to take a 15-8 advantage.

The Cougars would get to within three at 17-14 behind a Michaela Herrod jumper before EIU built its lead to 11 at halftime 34-23.

Nixon scored 14 of her game-high 22 points in the opening stanza for the Panthers finishing 8 of 11 from the floor. Nixon added a team-high 11 rebounds for the double-double.

In early foul trouble, Jazmin Hill, SIUE's leading scorer played only six minutes in the opening half. Hill turned things around in the second half finishing with 15 points to lead the Cougars, and hit at least two three-pointers for the 14th-consecutive game.

EIU stretched its lead to 19 early in the second half as the Cougars struggled shooting. SIUE finished the game 19 of 62 from the field.

"We just didn't shoot a high enough percentage to overcome their lead," said SIUE Head Coach Amanda Levens.

The Cougars would get to within 15 points 57-42 in the second half, but the Panthers closed out the game 73-54 to get the season sweep.

SIUE certainly had its chances to get back in the game pulling down 20 offensive rebounds, tying a season high. However, the boards resulted in just 16 second-chance points. The other game in which the Cougars recorded 20 offensive rebounds came in the season opener against Morgan State.

"We have to do more with those opportunities and it was not from a lack of effort," added Levens. "As a team, we need to convert more of those extra chances."

Sophomore Raven Berry grabbed 10 boards, six of which came in the offensive end. Berry recorded her seventh double-double of the season with 15 points and the 10 rebounds.

"Raven played well," said Levens. "She is a trooper and worked as hard as she could battling through injuries."

For the third time in her last four games, Herrod reached double digits rebounding with 13 for SIUE in the contest.

Jordyne Crunk added 16 points off the bench for EIU finishing a perfect 12 of 12 from the free throw line.

Coming into the game averaging 17.8 turnovers per game, the Cougars turned the ball over 15 times in the opening half before settling down in the second half committing only five.

"The turnovers were a huge emphasis for us at halftime," added Levens. "They didn't press us too hard; we just made too many mistakes."

The loss drops the Cougars to 7-14 on the season while Eastern Illinois evens its season record at 11-11.

SIUE will continue its road trip with a game at Tennessee State on Tuesday, Feb. 8. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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