MOREHEAD, Ky. — Five Southern Illinois University Edwardsville players scored in double figures Monday but a hot-shooting Morehead State team picked up the victory 75-72 in women's Ohio Valley Conference basketball action at the Johnson Center.
SIUE's Valerie Finnin matched her season high with 16 points. Tierny Austin also poured in 16 points and added nine rebounds.
"We had the effort necessary late in the game," said SIUE coach Paula Buscher.
SIUE, which nearly erased a 17-point second half deficit, dropped to 7-8 overall and 1-2 in the OVC.
Michaela Herrod recorded her first double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds. It was the eighth career double-double for the senior from Alton.
Senior Raven Berry, a Collinsville graduate, finished with 12 points, nine rebounds, and a career-high seven assists. Jazmin Hill, an Althoff graduate, was the only player off the bench in double figures. She scored 11 behind a team-leading three three-pointers.
Three-pointers came much easier for Morehead State. The Eagles collected 11 in the game with nine in the first half.
Buscher said the Cougars need to be hungrier at the beginning of the game. And that responsibility, she noted, lies with her.
"I need to do a better job of getting us ready from the opening tip," said Buscher. "I have to have them more focused at the opening tip."
Morehead State, 5-11 overall and 1-1 in OVC play, built up a 39-24 lead at halftime behind 56 percent shooting from the field and 9-of-14 shooting (64 percent) from three-point range. The Eagles shot 52 percent for the game and hit 18 of 20 from the free throw line.
Eagle guards Almesha Jones and Terrice Robinson combined for 52 of Morehead State's 75 points. Jones was one point shy of her career high with 30 points. Robinson hit the 20-plus scoring mark for the fourth time this season.
"You have to give credit to Morehead. They stepped up and made shots," said Buscher.
SIUE, which shot 39 percent from the field, picked up a hot shooter in Finnin who finished 6 of 11 from the field.
"I thought Val did a great job. She paid attention to detail and found where the gaps were in Morehead's defense. She was reading what they gave us defensively," Buscher said.
Even with the hot-shooting Eagles, the Cougars fought back from as much as a 17-point second-half deficit. The biggest run came late in the contest. Down 71-55 with 4:36 to play, SIUE completed an 11-0 run when Austin nailed a jumper with two minutes left in the game.
After a pair of made free throws by Jones, the lead was cut to four with 1:32 on a three-pointer by Hill. The Cougars continued to attack the basket from three-point range but didn't hit another until Hill converted again with 0.8 seconds left.
"I thought we made a great run late," Buscher said.
Buscher's team now gets its first opportunity for a home OVC contest Saturday. The Cougars play host to Tennessee Tech in a 4 p.m. contest at the Vadalabene Center.