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Free Throws Lift WIU over Cougars

Donshel Beck
Donshel Beck

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Emily Clemens hit a pair of free throws with 3.1 seconds left as Western Illinois held on for a 76-74 win over SIUE in women's college basketball Sunday at the Vadalabene Center.

Western Illinois improved to 5-1 after hitting 20 of 26 free throws for the game. SIUE dropped to 1-4 and next heads to the Air Force Classic to play Utah Valley Dec. 2.

"We're obviously disappointed," said SIUE Head Coach Paula Buscher. "At the same time, there were a lot of little things we could have done better. We put them on the line too many times."

SIUE made nine three-pointers in the game with four from Nakiah Bell, three from Elina Berzina and two from Lauren White.

"I thought we shot the three well and did a lot of nice things well," said Buscher.

Western Illinois, however, shot 6 of 11 from the field in the final period with several Cougars battling foul trouble.

"We need to work to be more disciplined with our footwork and do a better job containing," said Buscher.

SIUE fought back from seven points behind in the fourth period, taking its first lead of the final period 70-69 with 1:58 left on a jumper by Donshel Beck, who led SIUE with a season-high 20 points.

WIU's Clemens, who led all players with 24 points, drew two fouls in the next 35 seconds and hit two of four free throws to put the Leathernecks back up 71-70.

Gwen Adams followed on the next possession with a left-handed layup that put SIUE back on top 72-71 with 1:29 to play. Morgan Blumer's three-pointer with 53 seconds left gave Western Illinois a quick two-point cushion at 74-72.

After an SIUE missed shot, Beck stole the ball at midcourt from Clemens and went the distance for a game-tying bucket with 12 seconds left. Clemens then drew a foul driving to the basket with three ticks of the clock left. After her free throws were made, a last second shot by the Cougars missed to end the contest.

Four SIUE players finished the game in double figures. After Beck's 20, Adams finished with 15 followed by 12 each from White and Bell. Taylor Higginbotham scored 16 for the Leathernecks, and Blumer added 13.

SIUE outscored Western Illinois 27-7 off the bench. Buscher also pointed to the positives after the game with 18 assists and just 15 turnovers for the Cougars.

"We did a decent job with that," she said. "It's just having the confidence and getting a couple of wins. This team has some good components. It's frustrating right now. I know it's disappointing for our coaching staff, the team and everyone involved in our program."

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