The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville women's basketball team fell in heartbreaking fashion 69-67 to Tennessee-Martin in the semifinals Friday in Evansville, Ind.
The Cougars (17-15) took their first lead of the game when Jay'Nee Alston hit a free throw to make it 7-6 at the 6:30 mark during the first quarter. Alston finished the game with a career-high 17 points.
"My teammates and coaches kept hyping me up throughout the game, and I felt my confidence go up with every make I had," Alston said of her big night.
The Skyhawks (20-13) ended the first quarter on a 14-5 run to make the score 20-15 at the end of one.
The Cougars cut the Tennessee-Martin lead to one by halftime (28-27).
The third quarter was tight throughout, until the Skyhawks went on a 9-2 run to close out the period. Freshmen Chelsea Perry had seven of her 15 points in the quarter as the Skyhawks led the Cougars 52-42.
SIUE senior Donshel Beck picked up her fourth foul of the game early in the fourth quarter, sending her to the bench for most of the period. Beck, an OVC first-team selection, finished with nine points in 23 minutes.
The Cougars kept chipping away at the Skyhawks lead throughout the fourth quarter. SIUE cut its deficit to one after a layup at the 3:45 minute mark. Freshman Allie Troeckler, of Bethalto, had 11 points and five rebounds.
With two minutes remaining, senior Lauren White made a free throw, putting her at 1,000 career points. White finished with nine points.
With 19 seconds left in the game, Troeckler hit a layup to cut SIUE's deficit to 67-64. The Skyhawks inbounded the ball and and Troeckler forced a jump ball with SIUE holding the possession arrow. The inbound play set up Bell perfectly in the corner for a wide open 3-pointer, which she drained, tying the game up at 67 with 12 seconds left. UT Martin then drove the ball up the court and Perry drew a foul with four seconds remaining. She drained both free throws to seal the game.