MARTIN, Tenn. – Despite a career-high 18 points from senior guard Jay'nee Alston, SIUE dropped the back end of this road trip Saturday with a 68-55 loss at UT Martin.
"We kept the score and the pace of the game where we wanted," said SIUE Head Coach Paula Buscher. "We just had some untimely turnovers followed by some big threes from them."
SIUE dropped to 9-10 overall and 4-4 in the Ohio Valley Conference. UT Martin improved to 6-2 in the OVC and 14-5 overall.
The Cougars and the Skyhawks were even at 25-25 by halftime. But the Skyhawks took advantage of 21 SIUE turnovers for 23 points. UT Martin also connected on 22 of 34 from the free throw line.
Buscher said she thought her team was sometimes soft with the basketball, but it broke the defensive pressure UT Martin put on them. It was executing on the offensive end of the court that proved to be the difference.
"When you're in a tight game like this on the road, sometimes that's all it takes," added Buscher.
Alston was the lone player in double figures for the Cougars. She shot 6 of 11 from the field, including 4 of 9 from three-point range. She hit both of her free throw attempts and pulled down seven rebounds.
"I thought Jay'nee shot the ball well tonight," added Buscher.
SIUE's defense held UT Martin to 33.9 percent shooting (20-59). Chelsey Perry paced the Skyhawks with 19 points with nine points coming in the fourth period. Kyannah Grant pumped in 11 off the bench, Maddie Waldrop added 10.
Buscher said she will be looking for her team to play up to expectations when the Cougars return to the Vadalabene Center Thursday for an 11 a.m. contest against Morehead. With Education Day and more than 3,000 screaming fans expected for the home crowd, the atmosphere should be electric.
"Now it's about character," Buscher told her team. "Who are we? How are we going to respond to this?"