EDWARDSVILLE – Jay'Nee Alston triggered a third-quarter outburst that powered the surging SIUE women's basketball team to another win Saturday.
The junior guard scored eight points during a 17-0 spree to guide the Cougars by Murray State 77-68 in an Ohio Valley Conference game at the Vadalabene Center.
The Cougars, completing a 4-0 home stand, improved to 15-10 overall with the Alumni Day victory. They jumped to 12-2 in the OVC and won for the 12th time in their last 14 games. Murray State fell to 9-16 and 5-9.
"Jay'Nee was huge in that stretch of the game," SIUE Head Coach Paula Buscher said. "She played aggressively. She attacked the basket and used her quickness effectively."
Alston scored 12 points to go along with four assists and was one of three Cougars to reach double figures. Donshel Beck led the way with 17 points and seven rebounds, while Lauren White logged 16 points, four assists and three rebounds. Sydney Bauman collected 12 rebounds and eight points.
"We had a lot of players contribute," Buscher said, pointing to the Cougars' 44 rebounds and season-high 23 assists. "Those 23 assists show what team play is about – trusting each other. And we told the players at halftime they had do a better job rebounding because we knew that would be crucial. Sydney really had a good game."
Bauman said, "It's up there with my best game of the season."
SIUE led only 38-37 at halftime and withstood a 12-0 Murray State run in the second quarter. However, the Cougars then went on a run of their own. They went on a 14-0 spurt to close the third quarter and carry a 58-41 advantage into the final period. SIUE scored the first three points of the final quarter to push ahead 61-41 and never looked back.
"Everybody was making shots and playing hard," Beck said of that third-quarter drive when the Cougars outscored the Racers 20-4. "We knew what we had to do."
Alston helped stoke things. Overall, SIUE made 29 of 59 shots, including 4 of 16 from three-point land. The Cougars sank 15 of 21 free throws and outrebounded the Racers 44-38.
"I was feeling good, and my teammates were getting me the ball," she said. "We're locked in as a team and trusting each other."
Beck added, "Jay'Nee is a great shooter, and she has a knack for getting open and knocking down shots."
Bauman likes the way the Cougars are playing.
"Offensively, we've started trusting each other with the ball and defensively we are communicating a lot better."
SIUE's defense limited Murray State's Ke'Shunan James, the second-leading scorer in the OVC, to eight points. James hit for 32 points on Dec. 30 when SIUE prevailed 75-70 at Murray State.
"Zaria Whitlock and Allie Troeckler were really locked in defensively on her (James) tonight," Buscher said.
The Cougars resume OVC action on the road next week. They will play Thursday at 4 p.m. at UT Martin. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU.