EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - Western Illinois maintained an advantage over SIU Edwardsville in the opening nine minutes of play before the Cougars offense got hot, went on a run to close out the first half and never looked back recording the 68-58 win on Monday (Nov. 19). The Leathernecks dropped to 1-3 overall.
Junior Rachel Evans got Western off to a quick start hitting a layup and a jumper within the first 1:30 to play and freshman Michelle Maher joined in sinking two three-pointers a minute apart from one another to put the squad up early.
The Cougars (2-2) responded by taking the lead with a layup with 8:30 to play and outscored Western 19 to five in the remainder of the first half.
After trailing by 15 at the break, the Leathernecks were unable to cut the deficit to any less than nine points as SIUE solidified the win.
"I thought out defense took a step back today," head coach JD Gravina said. "We weren't pressuring the ball. We'll give them some credit, they were quick and athletic and that made it tough to get up and pressure, and they were big so we had a hard time guarding both. But we still didn't have that intensity that we needed. You can give SIUE credit for going after the ball harder."
Maher provided an offensive spark for the Leathernecks throughout the contest, netting a career high 22 points, 11 in each half. She knocked down 5-of-11 beyond the arc, also a career-best. Senior Michele Salvatori paced the squad in rebounds with seven, one off of her season high, and contributed nine points.
The Leathernecks shot 35.2 percent from the floor and 28.6 percent from three-point range, while the Cougars shot 57.1 percent and 50 percent from beyond the arc.
Illinois wraps up its three game road swing at Saint Louis this Saturday (Nov.
24). Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. in St. Louis at the Chaifetz Arena.