LINCOLN, Neb. - Donshel Beck became the 24th person in school history to score 1,000 points at SIUE, but the Cougars dropped their season opener to Nebraska 62-53 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
The Cougars gave Nebraska a mighty scare when Beck's 1,000th career point tied the game 23-23 early in the third quarter. SIUE would go on to lead by as many eight (38-30) before the Cornhuskers made a 13-0 run to end the period.
SIUE pulled to within one point in the fourth quarter 45-44 on a jumper by Lauren White with 7:36 to play, but Nebraska pushed forward with 21 points off the bench from Bria Stallworth, including three three-pointers, and 18 points from Kate Cain.
Beck said SIUE's start to the game set the tone.
"I think we had a lot of positivity in the locker room," the Cougar senior said. "We came out with a lot of energy."
"I'm really proud of our fight today," said SIUE Head Coach Paula Buscher. "If we fight like this all the time, the Cougar fans are in for a really good season."
"We were staying extremely aggressive," said Buscher. "We were grinding out a lot of possessions defensively."
SIUE's work on the boards was especially of note considering Nebraska had a clear size advantage regardless of who was in the lineup. The Cougars outrebounded the Huskers 45-44.
"It really speaks to the toughness of our team," said Buscher. "We had a big battle on the boards. They had some size."
"I think we did a good job. We had great defense," echoed Beck.
SIUE now returns to the Vadalabene Center for its own home opener. The Cougars face Air Force in a 7 p.m. contest Friday.
"We had a great turn-around in one week in our approach to the game," said Buscher. "I saw a lot of toughness today."