Jones Leads the Way as Cougars Overtake Eastern Kentucky

Micah Jones
Micah Jones

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Micah Jones made sure the SIUE women's basketball team regained its winning touch Saturday.

Jones scored a season-best 22 points as the Cougars defeated Eastern Kentucky 74-55 in an Ohio Valley Conference game at the Vadalabene Center. SIUE, ending a three-game skid, improved to 10-11 overall and 5-5 in the OVC. Eastern Kentucky fell to 2-19 and 0-10 in losing its 10th consecutive game.

"It was one of my better games," said Jones, a 6-foot, 1-inch redshirt senior forward from Cowden, Illinois. "We were sharing the basketball, and my teammates found a way to get me the ball."

Jones made 10 of 13 shots as the Cougars connected on 32 of 58 field-goal attempts, including 19 of 29 in a 44-point second half. They once trailed 32-20 in the second quarter, went on a 10-0 run to close out the half and then blitzed Eastern Kentucky in the second half. The Cougars outscored the Colonels 44-15 in an 18-minute span.

"I wasn't happy with the way we played in the first 15 minutes of the game," SIUE Head Coach Paula Buscher said. "We weren't playing very smart or with much energy, but then we made some changes and had a great run the last five minutes of the half."

Mikala Hall, Mikia Keith, Nakiah Bell, Lyric Boone and Jones kept the Cougars humming in the second half when SIUE outscored Eastern Kentucky by 21 points.

Hall, a freshman guard, registered a season-best nine points. Keith, another freshman guard, tallied seven points, matching her season-best scoring effort. Boone, a sophomore forward, pitched in six points, a career best. Bell, a redshirt senior guard, collected seven points and seven assists.

"We have a lot of players who can play and some good depth on this team," Buscher said. "It's the largest team, for numbers, that I have coached. And when we stay consistent, we are a good team."

Buscher pointed to Jones' consistency as a key reason for the Cougars' victory.

"Micah was steady, and she was keeping the game simple," Buscher said.

SIUE had 4 of 13 shots from three-point range and withstood 6 of 15 shooting from the foul line. The Cougars outrebounded the Colonels 42-24 and limited Eastern Kentucky to 21 of 59 shooting, or 36 percent. The Colonels made just 9 of 31 shots in their 23-point second half.

In addition, SIUE scored 54 of its points – or all but 20 of them – in the paint. All 10 of Jones' baskets came in the lane area. She finished three points shy of her career-high 25 points.

"We were getting inside to score, and that's one of our strength," Buscher said.

She noted, "We need to play well and what I always stress with our team is that we can get a little bit better with each game.  That's how you progress during the season."

Jones figures the Cougars will continue to make progress.

"When I like about this team is that the players are so energetic and excited to play," Jones said

The Cougars hit the road for a pair of games next week. They play Thursday at Austin Peay and Saturday at Murray State. SIUE then returns home to welcome Eastern Illinois in a 7:30 p.m. game on Feb. 14.