EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Lauren White scored a career-best 28 points, but it wasn't enough to produce a win for the SIUE women's basketball team Sunday.
Northern Illinois used a strong second half to defeat the Cougars 86-75 in a nonconference game at the Vadalabene Center. The Huskies, getting four players to score in double figures, improved to 7-2. SIUE dropped to 3-6.
"We played well at times and did some things better, but we need to sustain it," SIUE Head Coach Paula Buscher said. "We need to put together a 40-minute game like we did against Saint Louis University and play as hard as we did against SIU Carbondale."
White did her best to keep the Cougars together. She made 9 of 17 shots, including 3 of 5 from three-point range and sank 7 of 10 free throws in eclipsing her previous best of 20 points, something she has done three times.
White, a redshirt senior guard from Edwardsville, Ill., also snared seven rebounds and handed out five assists. Teammate Donshel Beck, a senior forward from St. Louis, Mo., added to the effort with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
"For me, it was a pretty good game," White said. "But it's bittersweet because I want to win more than anything. We did some good things as a team. We need to keep improving, make adjustments, learn from them and stay focused the entire game."
SIUE led 17-5 midway through the first quarter and 40-37 at half, yet Northern Illinois kept charging at the Cougars. The Huskies erupted for a 49-point second half and used an 11-2 spurt late in the third quarter to carry a 60-58 lead into the final period when they scored 26 points.
"I give them credit," White said of the Huskies. "They shot well."
Myia Starks tallied a career-high 25 points for NIU. Teammates Courtney Woods (24 points), Kelly Smith (15 points) and Mikayla Voigt (11 points) contributed to the cause.
The Huskies made 29 of 59 shots, including 11 of 22 from three-point range. They also converted 17 of 18 free throws even though SIUE outrebounded them 36-34. The Cougars made 28 of 64 shots, hitting 7 of 17 treys. They were 12 of 22 from the foul line.
"They (Huskies) hit their free throws, and our free throw shooting was sub-par," Buscher said. "I thought we came out with a lot of energy, then our defense backed off a little bit against a good offensive team. There are a lot of positives you can take from this game. We did some good things. We just need to keep learning."
SIUE competes next in the Florida Gulf Coast University Hilton Garden Inn Classic at Fort Myers, Florida. The Cougars battle Akron at 3:30 p.m. CT Wednesday and take on host FGCU at 6 p.m. CT Thursday.