The SIUE women’s basketball fought back from a 10-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter and nearly pulled off the comeback before falling to Missouri State 68-65 at the Roos Holiday Classic in Kansas City.
“This team today was fun to coach,” said SIUE Head Coach Paula Buscher. “I know we came up short, but this team is going to be special if we can figure out that fight.”
Buscher said the Cougars showed aggressiveness, notably in the fourth period when the team outscored the Bears 22-15. SIUE hit five of its last six field goals.
SIUE, 4-6, tied up the game 62-62 with 1:30 to play on a free throw by Christen King, who recorded a career-high 16 points.
Missouri State answered 45 seconds later with a three-pointer by Alexa Willard, only the second three-pointer of the game for the Bears.
After one free throw by Missouri State’s Brice Calip with 22 seconds left, King knocked down a three-pointer to cut the lead to one. Elle Ruffridge’s two free throws for the Lady Bears with eight seconds left closed out the scoring.
“We continued to fight and push,” said Buscher. “Give Missouri State credit, they finished the game like they needed to, but I thought our fight was what we needed.”
SIUE bested Missouri State from the field, shooting 42 percent (26-62) to Missouri State’s 33 percent (25-75). Missouri State, 3-7, crashed the boards, pulling down 54 rebounds, including 25 off the offensive glass.
Riana Everidge was the only other Cougar in double figures with 12 points, including nine in the second half.
Sydney Bauman flirted with a triple-double, finishing with eight points, 10 rebounds and a career-high seven block shots. Bauman extended her SIUE career record in blocks to 158 and has 25 this season in 10 games.
Danielle Gitzen paced the Lady Bears with 17 points followed by 14 from Calip.
“I’m disappointed in the loss,” Buscher said, “but I’m really pleased with our effort and fight and the way our kids played against what I consider a very good Missouri State team.”
The loss concluded nine straight games on the road for the Cougars. SIUE returns to the Vadalabene Center for the first time since the season opener with a Dec. 30 clash against McKendree. Game time for the final game in 2018 for SIUE is 2 p.m.