EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – SIUE continued its winning ways and used a stifling defense to do it Saturday afternoon, Cougars' Head Coach Paula Buscher said.
The Cougars muffled Murray State 71-54 in an Ohio Valley Conference women's basketball game at the Vadalabene Center and posted their third consecutive victory. SIUE improved to 9-8 overall and jumped above .500 for the first time since Dec. 8. The Cougars are 4-2 in the OVC. Murray State dropped to 6-11 and 2-4.
"Our rebounding and defense were huge and that was good to see," Buscher said. "I have a lot of trust in this team and I also think we can score offensively in a lot of ways."
Redshirt senior guard Nakiah Bell ignited the Cougars' attack. She matched her season-best with five treys and 17 points.
"I was very confident today and everybody was telling me too shoot," said Bell, who made 6 of 14 shots overall, including the 5 of 10 three, to pace the SIUE offense. The Cougars committed only eight turnovers, while Murray State made 15 of them.
Buscher added, "Everybody knows Nakiah is a great shooter, but she can do a lot of other things, too."
Allie Troeckler collected 15 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals to complement Bell's scoring. Reserve Riana Everidge pitched in 10 points in 11 minutes, while Sydney Bauman grabbed 12 rebounds.
"We played a lot of people and had some good contributions," Buscher said. "Allie did what Allie does and Riana finally is getting comfortable with everything we are doing."
Murray State coach Rechele Turner said, "They (Cougars) beat us in every area. We got completely outworked, outplayed, out-executed and out-everything today."
Bell said the Cougars' may be finding their niche. "The last few games we have been more consistent," she said. "Our defense has been great. We're trying to get more stops and turnovers."
Buscher pointed out, "Our team is getting in the groove defensively and the three-game winning streak is great. But we can't look behind or ahead."
The Cougars made 24 of 68 shots, including 8 of 21 from 3-point land. They sank 15 of 21 free throws and outrebounded the Racers 47-41. The Cougars also accounted for a dozen steals and blocked six shots. The Racers hit on just 17 of 53 shots, including 7 of 19 treys.
SIUE led 25-19 at half, thanks mainly to a 13-0 blitz that covered more than eight minutes late in the first quarter and early in the second. The Cougars then went on a 12-0 spree, from late in the second quarter to early in the third, to build a 35-19 advantage. SIUE stretched its lead to 20 points on two occasions in the second half.
Murray State junior Evelyn Adebayo, the second-leading scorer in the OVC, scored a game-high 20 points. Macey Turley added 16 points for the Racers, who start three freshmen, one sophomore and one junior.
The Cougars hit the road for two games next week. They play Thursday at Southeast Missouri and Saturday at UT Martin.