EDWARSVILLE — An abysmal start led to the demise of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville women's basketball team Saturday night.
The Cougars missed their first 11 shots and had just three baskets in the first half in a 66-51 loss to No. 18 Purdue before 1,185 at Vadalabene Center.
SIUE (1-2) outscored the Boilermakers (2-0) 38-32 in the second half, but the damage already was done.
"The first half, we got some good shots early," SIUE coach Paula Buscher said. "We missed some easy things. We didn't have any rhythm in the first half. We didn't have any energy plays."
The Boilermakers took a 10-0 lead in the first 4 1/2 minutes. Purdue's lead was 12-2 before the Cougars converted their first basket, a putback by Berry with 13:54 to play in the half.
But Purdue continued to roll, building leads of 26-5 and 32-9. Its halftime advantage was 34-13 as SIUE was 3-for-23 from the floor.
"We haven't started games very well, so that was a good thing," Boilermakers coach Sharon Versyp said of her team's first-half domination. "We played exceptionally well. We put them on their heels --defensively and offensively. That first half was probably the best half of basketball we've played."
Junior Courtney Moses led Purdue with 14 points. Senior Drey Mingo had 11 and freshman April Wilson had 10 off the bench. Senior Sam Ostarello had 14 rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Sophomore Tierny Austin topped the Cougars with 18 points, 16 of them in the second half. She was 6-for-15 from the field.
Junior Jazmin Hill, an Althoff High graduate, had 11 points in a reserve role for the Cougars. Senior Raven Berry, of Collinsville, had seven points and 14 rebounds.
Buscher, in her first season, said the first half featured a bevy of "teaching moments." But she was encouraged by an uptick in the intensity department in the second half, combined with improved execution.
"The second half, we did a nice job in every four-minute segment," Buscher said. "We competed and battled; we kept playing to the buzzer. That's what we've got to do."
SIUE finished 15-for-58 from the field (26 percent). Purdue was 21-for-45 (47 percent) and outrebounded the Cougars 40-35.
The Cougars, who trailed by 34 points in the second half (52-18), made a late push, getting within 63-51 on Hill's driving basket with two minutes to play. They were SIUE's final points.
"We caught fire late," Buscher said. "The scoring, it came from the defensive end. We had to stay at it. I thought we did that."
SIUE returns to action at 7 p.m. Monday against Western Illinois.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.