MURRAY, Ky. – Free throws down the stretch proved to be the difference Saturday as SIUE women's basketball improved to 2-0 in Ohio Valley Conference play with a 75-70 victory over Murray State at the CFSB Center.
Lauren White led the Cougars in scoring with 17 points, including 15 free throws made. Gwen Adams matched White with 17 off the bench. Donshel Beck pumped in 16 points. Sydney Bauman added eight on 4-of-4 shooting from the field.
"I'm proud of our team finishing it off," said SIUE Head Coach Paula Buscher. "We'll come back 2-0 and then head out on the road next week for two more."
SIUE next heads to Eastern Kentucky for a 4:30 p.m. CT contest Thursday in Richmond, Kentucky. The Cougars complete their six-game road swing next Saturday at Morehead State.
The Cougars, now 5-8 overall, pushed to the lead early. SIUE grabbed a nine-point lead in the first quarter on a three-pointer by Adams six minutes into the game.
Jay'Nee Alston, who had four points and five rebounds, ran the point guard position for the Cougars. She recalled pregame words from Coach Buscher to attack the basket.
"That was going through my head – to push the ball, look for my teammates, and if I had an open layup take it," she said.
Murray State, also 5-8, dropped to 1-1 in league play after a game that featured 69 free throw attempts. SIUE held that edge 37-32.
"Both teams shot a ton of free throws so it was hard to get into a flow, but I thought our players stayed focused," said Buscher.
White made 10 of her career-best 15 free throws made in the fourth period. At one point, White had made 11 straight free throws.
"That's how good Lauren really is," said Buscher. "To knock down free throws late, that's crucial."
Ke'Shunan James sparked Murray State with 33 points. Bria Bethea added 17.
"The one thing that I really liked was that we rebounded," added Buscher. "We had to win the rebounding battle. That was going to be crucial tonight."
SIUE won the battle on the boards 46-32. Five different players, led by Bauman's eight, had at least six boards.