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Austin’s Return Sparks Cougars

Tierny Austin
Tierny Austin

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Tierny Austin led five SIUE players in double figures Saturday as the Cougars swept past Austin Peay 81-65 at the Dunn Center.


Austin scored a game-high 19 points in her first game since Jan. 27th due to injury. The Cougar junior shot 6 of 9 from the field with a pair of three-pointers.


"It feels like she didn't skip a beat," said SIUE Head Coach Paula Buscher. "She came in and shot the ball well. She did a great job defensively as well."


SIUE improved to 8-18 overall and 4-9 in the Ohio Valley Conference. Austin Peay dropped to 9-17 overall and 6-7 in the OVC.


Valerie Finnin, who played all 40 minutes for the Cougars, scored a season-high 18 points against the Lady Govs. That was two points shy of her career high.


Allyssa Decker added a season best of her own with 13 points.


"Having Tierny back was huge, but I thought Val and Allyssa really stepped up tonight as well," said Buscher.


Ashley Capotosto recorded her first career double-double, finishing with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Micah Jones, the reigning OVC Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week, scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds.


"We played with another level of toughness tonight. We had a lot of players step up tonight," Buscher said.


The game was tight in the first half. SIUE took as much as a six-point lead on a jumper by Decker with 11:18 to play. The Lady Govs would come back to tie the game 37-37 on a pair of free throws by Nicole Olszewski with 49 seconds left. Tearra Banks would give the Lady Govs the lead 39-37 at halftime when she grabbed an offensive round and made the putback with 20 seconds left.


Beth Rates led the Lady Govs in scoring with 17 points.


The second half would be all SIUE.


A bucket by Finnin tied the game 39-39 on the opening possession of the second half. Austin Peay would have just one more lead before SIUE would go on a 19-4 run capped off by a pair of free throws by Austin.


Buscher said Finnin's third of three three-pointers with 6:37 left to play helped propel the Cougars.


"It was a two-possession game, and Val stepped up and hit a huge three for us late in the shot clock," Buscher said. "She shot the ball with a whole lot of confidence."


SIUE shot 50 percent from the field (30-60) and 50 percent from three-point range as a team. Austin Peay would shoot 40.9 percent from the field (27-66) and just 11 percent from beyond the arc (2-18).


"We shot the ball very well. In the second half, we attacked more and got to the free throw line," Buscher said.


The road trip continues for the Cougars Monday with a 7 p.m. contest at Murray State.

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