EDWARDSVILLE — The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville women's basketball pumped in a season-high 55 points in the second half and rallied past Murray State 79-68 Monday night at the Vadalabene Center.
After shooting just 23.8 percent (10-42) in the first half, SIUE did an about face and shot 66.7 percent (20-30) over the final 20 minutes.
"That was a fun second half," said SIUE coach Paula Buscher. "This isn't a complicated game. It's about work ethic and intensity. I was very proud with how hard our team worked for 40 minutes tonight."
SIUE evened its record to 7-7 in Ohio Valley Conference play. Murray State dropped to 15-10 overall and 7-6 in the OVC.
"We had good energy in the first half, but we weren't taking the ball to the basket as hard as we needed to. The shot selection was much better in the second half," Buscher said.
The Cougars finished with four players in double figures. Jazmin Hill, an Althoff graduate, led SIUE with 15 points. Raven Berry, a Collinsville graduate, earned her fourth straight double-double and 11th of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Tierny Austin scored 14. CoCo Moore scored 11, all in the second half.
"Our game is about aggressiveness," said Buscher. "I didn't like how we played Saturday, but tonight we stepped up our intensity and played how we're capable of playing."
Ashley Capotosto's insertion in the starting lineup boosted the Cougars. She posted season highs in rebounds with 10 and steals with four along with nine points.
"Ashley's in the game because she brings energy," said Buscher. "I know that she's always going to bust her tail, will always communicate, and will always play hard. When they double teamed Berry, Cap went to the basket and made things happen."
SIUE was one point off its season high with 79 points. Most of the team's offense came near the basket with SIUE dominating 48-22 in the paint.
Murray State led at halftime 30-24 behind Tessa Elkins who scored 11 of her game-high 17 points in the first half. Keiona Kirby kept the Racers excited with her three second-half three-pointers and finished with 15 points. Erika Sisk scored 14 points and added a team-high eight rebounds.
SIUE also had a strong night at the free throw line. The Cougars hit their first 10 from the charity stripe and finished 16 of 20 overall.
Buscher said her team's bench play also played a key role in the win.
"When we brought players off the bench, we didn't lose points. We stayed right with them. The energy and intensity they brought off the bench really helped us tonight, Buscher said.
SIUE now has a full week to prepare for its final home game of the season. The Cougars face Tennessee State in a 7 p.m. battle next Monday. It will be Senior Night for the SIUE women.