It wasn’t very pretty and it definitely wasn’t easy, but the Lady Colonels (8-5, 2-0 OVC) picked up their fifth consecutive win on the road Saturday, 59-54 over Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.
The Lady Colonels are now 2-0 in Ohio Valley Conference play and have won five games in row for the first time since the 2004-05 season.
The Lady Colonels led 51-43 with 2:32 remaining in the game, but SIUE steadily whittled the lead down and trailed by two at 53-51 with 1:11 remaining.
After a Marie Carpenter miss with 44 seconds left, freshman Michaela Hunter came up with a huge steal and bucket to give EKU a 55-51 cushion with 30.9 seconds left.
That lead quickly evaporated when Syerra Cunningham drained a long three-pointer with 18 seconds left to cut the margin to one point.
Marie Carpenter was fouled on the ensuing possession and sank two free throws with 12.2 seconds remaining to push the lead back to 57-54.
The Lady Colonels forced a missed three-point attempt by Jessie Wendt with 5.4 seconds to go.
Carpenter was fouled on the rebound and sank one more free throw with six seconds to seal the win.
EKU coach Chrissy Roberts said any win on the road in the OVC is a good win.
“A win is a win, especially on the road,” Roberts said. “We found a way to win tonight and everybody who came in and played, contributed to the win.”
The Lady Colonels got production from multiple players off the bench against the Lady Cougars and needed every one of them.
Marie Carpenter, the OVC’s leading scorer, was hounded all night with a player tracking her all over the court. She still managed to have a team-high 20 points on the night. Pilar Walker was the only other Lady Colonel in double figures with 12 points.
With Carpenter held in check in the first half, scoring only six points, several different players stepped up to fill the void.
Walker had 10 points in the first half, while Jasmine Stafford, Hunter, Cierra Drake and Nicole Bowers all scored off the bench as the Lady Colonels overcame a slow start to build a 27-19 halftime lead.
While the EKU offense was a bit sluggish in the first half, the defense was playing well. The Lady Colonels forced the Lady Cougars into 10 first-half turnovers and only 27.6 percent shooting.
In the second half, EKU stretched its lead to as many as eight points on several occasions only to see SIUE make a mini-run to get within four or five points.
But each time they did, the Lady Colonels always had an answer.
SIUE cut the margin to 33-30 with 12:47 remaining, but Carpenter nailed a three pointer and Shelley Harper had a basket to push it back to 38-30.
At the 8:45 mark the Lady Cougars once again got to within four at 42-39. But again Carpenter answered with a basket to extend it to 44-39.
With 6:09 remaining, SIUE got to within 44-42, forcing Roberts to call a time out.
After the break, Harper and Hunter had back-to-back buckets to push it back to a six point lead at 48-12.
Bowers then came up with one of the biggest stops of the game when she blocked Coco Moore’s shot and stole the ball with 3:58 remaining.
Carpenter quickly put the Lady Colonels up 50-43 with a basket and free throw on the other end. But EKU withstood SIUE’s final charge late in the game to come away with the victory.
“We made some huge stops at the end against a tough SIUE team so this is a big win for us,” Roberts said.
In all, nine players scored in the game. Shelley Harper finished with nine points, two rebounds and two steals, Hunter had five points and six rebounds, Stafford had four points, six rebounds and two assists, Bowers finished with three points and four rebounds, while Drake added two points, three rebounds, Maples had two points and five rebounds and Henshaw had two points.
The Lady Colonels return to action on Monday in the second game of their three game road trip against Eastern Illinois at 8 p.m. in Charleston Ill.