EDWARDSVILLE — Call it a banner night for Raven Berry.
On the night she would become Southern Illinois Univeristy Edwardsville's all-time leader in rebounds, the senior from Collinsville scored a career-high 28 points and set career highs for free throws made (14) and free throws attempted (17).
"It's a tremendous honor for Raven to be the all-time rebounds leader. She's going to keep tacking those rebounds on to make that a very tough record for anyone to break in years to come," said SIUE Head Coach Paula Buscher.
SIUE improved to 11-10 overall and 5-4 in the Ohio Valley Conference with a 78-65 triumph over Southeast Missouri at the Vadalabene Center. The loss sent SEMO to 8-13 overall and 2-6 in the OVC.
"It feels really good to set the record, but I was more focused on this game," said Berry. "I knew we had to come out and play hard because SEMO was going to play hard as well."
The night started slow for Berry. She didn't grab her first of a game-high 13 rebounds until the 9:56 mark of the first half.
She would go on to break the record previously held by former All-American Kim (Lowe) Thompson who played for the Cougars from 1995 to 1998. Her record-breaking rebound came at the 2:11 mark of the first half. She missed a shot, grabbed the offensive rebound, and put the ball back into the basket to tie the score 20-20.
Berry, who notched her seventh double-double of the season and the 31st of her career, began to set herself apart from the previous rebound record holder in the second half with 11 more rebounds. She now has 928 rebounds.
"Raven also was able to get down in the post and played very physical," Buscher said. "You have to give her credit to knock down shots and knock down free throws."
The two teams were nearly even at halftime. Both shot 10 of 30 from the field. SEMO had four more three-pointers made. SIUE had five more free throws made for a 26-25 lead at the half.
SIUE and SEMO tied the score 11 times in the game, and the two squads exchanged leads 10 times.
The Cougars separated themselves from the Redhawks midway through the second half. After Bailie Roberts hit a jumper with 9:15 left to play to tie the score for the 11th time, SIUE responded with a 15-0 run over the next 5 1/2 minutes of play.
"That 15-0 run gave us the lead we needed, but we still had to finish off the game," said Buscher. "We were able to close the game out because we hit our free throws. This was one of our better free throw shooting nights, and you need that in close games. The final score doesn't indicate how close this game was."
CoCo Moore matched her career high with 17 points for SIUE. Tierny Austin scored 10 for her eighth straight double-digit scoring outing.
Kara Wright, who led the Redhawks with 22 points, broke up SIUE's game-busting run with a three-pointer with 3:32 left in the game. SEMO, which picked up 17 points off the bench from Allyson Bradsaw, would only get as close as nine points for the rest of the game.
"This is a great win for us. We're trying to get back towards the top of our division, but I have to give a lot of credit to SEMO. They played very aggressive and had us a little flustered in the first half," Buscher said.
The Cougars finished the game shooting 43.9 percent from the field (25-57) and 81.3 percent from the free throw line (26-32).
SIUE's next action is Saturday when the Cougars finish off a three-game home stand against Eastern Illinois. Game time is 4 p.m. at the Vadalabene Center.