College Sports

SIUE women’s basketball clinches No. 3 seed in OVC Tournament

It’s off to the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament for the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville women’s basketball team.

Junior Donshel Beck had 20 points and eight rebounds Saturday as the Cougars defeated Eastern Illinois 68-52 in the regular-season finale for both teams at Vadalabene Center.

SIUE (13-16, 9-7) clinched the No. 3 seed in the tournament and will meet sixth-seeded Tennessee Tech at 3 p.m. Thursday at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn.

“Anything can happen in the tournament,” Beck said. “We know what we have to do to go forward in the tournament: Play defense, and have everybody play with confidence.”

The Cougars limited Eastern Illinois to 30-percent shooting (19 of 64) from the field and outrebounded the Panthers 48-36. Sophomore Nakia Bell added 13 points.

“I’m proud of our kids,” SIUE coach Paula Buscher said. “We were in the tournament either way ... but we needed the win to get third and go into the conference tournament on a high. Now, it’s really about playing 40 minutes of basketball. I want us to enjoy the moment, and I want us to have some fun but really play hard.”

Senior Cassidy Sherman, a star soccer player but a seldom-used reserve for the Cougars, swished two free throws in the fourth quarter for her first points of the season.

“She’s now officially always in the record books as scoring on a women’s basketball team,” Buscher said. “A two-sport athlete in college, anymore, is pretty hard to find. She’s a tremendous individual, low-maintenance. She does everything you ask her to do and busts her tail every day. I’m excited for her to go out with a win on Senior Night.”

Brown’s career ends

Senior Erica Brown, a 2013 graduate of Nashville High School, closed her collegiate career by scoring 11 points and grabbing nine rebounds for Eastern Illinois (9-19, 5-11).

“Lots of emotions,” the 6-foot-1 Brown said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t deliver (a victory). These games happen. We had a very low shooting percentage, but I’m just happy I’ve been able to be a part of this for four years.”

Brown started all 28 games and averaged 11.8 points and eight rebounds. She finished her career as the Panthers’ seventh-leading rebounder (711) and third-leading blocker (168).

Brown helped lead Nashville to the Class 2A state championship in 2013.

Former Hornets coach Wayne Harre was in the stands for the Eastern Illinois-SIUE game.

“I remember all great things from Nashville,” Brown said. “Senior year, you couldn’t ask for a better thing to end on — state champions. I always look on that fondly.”

Nashville won 33 games in its championship season, one fewer than Eastern Illinois won during Brown’s four years (34-80).

“There’s pros and cons to each season,” Brown said. “I did better things this season, as I had done past seasons. I look at that. Also, we made the (OVC) tournament my freshman year, so I look at that as well. That’s the goal. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get that.”

Brown will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in communications disorders and sciences. She plans to attend graduate school and become a speech language pathologist.

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm