College Sports

Despite early lead, Cougars drop opening game of Roos Holiday Classic

Despite its biggest offensive performance and best shooting percentage of the season, SIUE women’s basketball dropped the opening game Thursday of the Roos Holiday Classic to host UMKC 80-75 at Swinney Recreation Center.

SIUE coach Paula Buscher said confidence will be key to rebounding for the next tournament game on Friday. On Thursday, UMKC came from behind in the fourth quarter to defeat the Cougars.

“They ended up being the aggressors,” she said. “Give credit to UMKC, they stayed aggressive for 40 minutes.”

SIUE scored a season-high 75 points and shot 30 of 65 from the field (46.2 percent).

“I thought we were attacking their pressure early, doing some really good things,” said Buscher. “When we were the aggressors, I thought we played really well.”

The Cougars held UMKC to 4 of 15 shooting in the opening period as Christen King scored four points and grabbed four steals. SIUE led 26-13 after the first period.

King was one of three SIUE players scoring in double figures with 13 points. Micah Jones scored 15, and Nakiah Bell added 12.

“She (King) used her athleticism and stayed aggressive,” said Buscher. “She attacked the basket, and I can’t ask a kid do anything different.”

Ericka Mattingly was one of four players scoring in double figures for UMKC with 26 points and 14 rebounds. Mattingly led the charge as UMKC continued to cut the lead as the game progressed.

The fourth quarter saw UMKC lift its game behind eight points from Leilah Vigil, who finished with 15 points off the bench. UMKC outscored the Cougars 25-14 over the final 10 minutes of play.

“We have to learn how to stay aggressive for four quarters,” said Buscher. “We have to keep grinding and keep playing. We have to keep getting better.”

Thursday also was the season debut for SIUE transfer Riana Everidge, a transfer from Nevada who scored five points in 12 minutes played.

“I thought when she came in early she stayed real focused,” said Buscher.

The Cougars will have a quick turnaround for game two of the tournament. SIUE meets Missouri State in a 3 p.m. contest Friday.