EVANSVILLE, Ind. – University of Southern Indiana Women’s Basketball returned home to Screaming Eagles Arena on Saturday, Jan. 7 and got back on track in a big way, capturing a 79-59 win against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in Ohio Valley Conference action.
The victory moved the Screaming Eagles’ record to 8-7 overall and 2-2 in OVC play. For the Cougars, the loss dropped their record to 3-12 overall and 2-2 in the OVC.
Southern Indiana was led on the night by a pair of double doubles. Sophomore guard Vanessa Shafford (Linton, Indiana) posted 18 points and 12 rebounds, while senior forward Hannah Haithcock (Washington Courthouse, Ohio) recorded 14 points and 10 boards. Shafford’s 12 rebounds were a career high. Saturday marked the first time two USI players tallied double doubles in the same game since February 17, 2018, when Kaydie Grooms registered 26 points and 12 rebounds and Morgan Dahlstrom accumulated 20 points and 10 rebounds against Rockhurst University.
After SIUE scored the first basket of the game, USI went on a 10-0 run to grab the lead three and a half minutes into the contest. The Screaming Eagles went to junior forward Meredith Raley (Haubstadt, Indiana) inside, establishing an early post presence.
The Cougars closed the gap following the first-quarter timeout, but USI increased its lead late in the first. With USI up 16-9 and 3:19 left in the first quarter, senior forward Tara Robbe (Wildwood, Missouri) went on an individual run. Robbe scored seven straight points for USI. The Screaming Eagles led 23-15 after the opening period.
Southern Indiana’s defense was stout to begin the second quarter, holding the Cougars scoreless for the first 4:08 of the second quarter until a made free throw. In the meantime, the Screaming Eagles were finding themselves in a physical clash on the other end of the court.
Both teams endured a cold spell from the field in the latter portion of the second quarter. USI increased its lead after hitting six free throws in the period. Plus, Shafford made a layup before the halftime horn sounded, giving USI a 38-24 advantage at halftime.
The start of the third quarter was just as much of a defensive contest as the second quarter. Senior guard Tori Handley (Jeffersonville, Indiana) snapped a USI scoreless drought that nearly reached three minutes when she connected on a corner three-pointer with 5:13 left in the third period. The triple gave Southern Indiana a 17-point lead, 47-30, the largest of the game at that time of the game.
USI’s unselfishness continued through the third quarter. Haithcock, who had six points at halftime, scored six in the third period. Haithcock joined Raley, Shafford, and Robbe as players who had scored eight or more through the end of the third period. USI led 60-40 after three.
Shafford had a solid start to the fourth quarter, connecting on a pair of threes within the first few minutes of the period. Her second triple of the fourth gave USI a 68-46 lead with 7:18 remaining. Shafford also achieved the double-double in the fourth, her third double-double of the season. Haithcock also joined Shafford with the double-double in the fourth quarter, her second of the season.
The Screaming Eagles continued to spread the wealth for the rest of the game, as graduate forward Ashlynn Brown (Perrysburg, Ohio) had a strong finish around the basket with four minutes left, pushing USI’s lead to 72-53 and helping close out the win.
On the night, Raley joined Shafford and Haithcock in double figures, tallying 14 points and a 6-for-6 night at the line. Brown also finished in double digits with 10 points while also pulling down eight caroms. The team effort also saw Handley score nine points and Robbe score eight points.
Overall, the Screaming Eagles shot 27-69 from the field for 39.1 percent with seven three-pointers. Southern Indiana had 21 assists. USI was 18-for-23 for 78.3 percent at the stripe. USI matched a season-high with 53 rebounds for the third time this season, going plus-nine on the glass, and grabbing 19 offensive rebounds.
Sophomore guard Sofie Lowis led SIUE with 22 points, the only Cougar to reach double figures. Reigning OVC Player of the Week and senior forward Ajulu Thatha was held to four points after dealing with foul trouble throughout the game.
As a team, the Cougars were 21-68 from the floor for 30.9 percent with three triples. At the line, SIUE was 14-24 for 58.3 percent.
The Screaming Eagles return to action against the University of Arkansas Little Rock Thursday at 5 p.m. from Screaming Eagles Arena on Whiteout Night. Fans should come out wearing white apparel to support USI Basketball and fill the arena for a USI Basketball doubleheader. USI students should pack the Penn Station Student Section and will receive a free white shirt and a rally towel provided by Liberty Federal Credit Union upon entering through the student entrance.