EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Sydney Bauman made certain the SIUE Cougars enjoyed a sweet sweep of Eastern Illinois Thursday at the Vadalabene Center.
Bauman, a senior center, matched her career-high with 22 points and snared 11 rebounds to guide SIUE by EIU, 78-62, in an Ohio Valley Conference women's basketball game.
The Cougars, defeating the Panthers for the second time this season, improved to 11-13 overall and 6-7 in the conference. They also downed EIU 65-56 on Dec. 5 in Charleston. The Panthers, who trailed 21-8 at the end of the first quarter and 38-25 at half, tumbled to 10-14 overall and 4-9 in the OVC.
"We challenged our players to come out with a lot of energy, and they did a great job of doing that," SIUE Head Coach Paula Buscher said.
Bauman served as the catalyst, connecting on 11 of 15 shots in equaling her career-best point production. She tallied 22 against visiting Austin Peay on Jan. 17.
"It was just my night tonight," said Bauman, the Cougars' career leader in blocked shots. "For whatever reason, I was in the right place at the right time. I kept my composure, and when I shot my baseline jumper, it felt sweet."
Buscher added, "Sydney took what they gave her. I don't know if she was spectacular, but she played simple basketball and didn't rush things. She had a really good game and was extremely efficient."
So were the rest of the Cougars. They made 27 of 56 shots, including 4 of 12 treys and converted 20 of 32 free throws. Their 78 points were the most they scored in OVC competition and second-highest this season. SIUE defeated Chicago State 82-66 Dec. 8th.
"Our defense was really helping our offense," Buscher said. "We did a great job with denial, and that got our offense going tonight."
Christen King contributed 13 points and four assists, while Jay'Nee Alston had nine points on a trio of three-points. Teammate Micah Jones pitched in with nine points and seven rebounds. Allie Troeckler collected six points, six rebounds and four assists. SIUE, which outrebounded EIU 29-28, never trailed and led by double digits the entire second half.
"I think we are moving the ball better," Buscher said of the Cougars' improving attacking ways. "And we are getting more points on second-chance baskets. We just need to keep playing well."
SIUE improved to 6-2 at home and now awaits UT Martin in a 4:30 game Saturday afternoon during its annual Pink Zone game.
"I think you will see some great matchups in that game," Bauman said. "We need to play our best because we are trying to put ourselves in the best possible position for the OVC tournament."
SIUE then will have four regular-season OVC dates remaining, including two at home –Tennessee Tech on Feb. 28 and Jacksonville State on March 2. The OVC tourney begins March 6 in Evansville, Indiana, with the top eight conference teams qualifying for the four-day competition.