NASHVILLE, Tenn. – SIUE women's basketball had its season come to end in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament semifinals after Eastern Kentucky edged the Cougars 61-58 at Municipal Auditorium.
The Cougars completed the season with a 14-17 record while advancing to the OVC semifinals for the third consecutive year.
"As disappointed as I am in the loss and I know our players are, you can't fault how they continued to fight back," said SIUE Head Coach Paula Buscher. "That's what this program is about. We missed it by a step. We'll get better. We'll keep grinding through this."
Eastern Kentucky, 12-19, led by as much as 13 points in the third period. The Cougars erased the lead down to one point on a layup by Donshel Beck with 36 seconds left, but EKU's Mariah Massengill provided the eventual game winner on a jumper with 9.3 seconds left.
Beck credited freshman teammate Cloe Churchill for pushing the momentum in SIUE's comeback. Churchill had a team-leading three steals and scored five points.
"She stepped up on the defensive end and on the offensive end," said Beck. "Our fans got into it. Our bench got into it. It just didn't go our way."
Beck led the Cougars with 15 points and 13 rebounds, her fourth double-double of the season. Lauren White added 12 points.
"It was an extremely physical game on both sides," said Buscher. "I thought we continued to battle."
Shavontae Naylor led the Colonels, which will play Belmont in Saturday's OVC title game, with 20 points. Jalen O'Bannon scored 16 while Massengill added 10.
EKU shot 23 of 51 (45.1 percent) from the field for the game.
SIUE struggled from the field, hitting 19 of 57 shots and 2 of 9 from three-point range.
"We didn't particularly real well, especially in that second quarter, but the positive thing I will say about these two (Beck and White) and the rest of our group is we finished the season with that toughness and guts and continuing to fight. That will propel us into next season."