“When you don’t get what you want you get experience and we are getting plenty of that early in the season” head coach Marsha Frese said. “We aren’t satisfied with the results, but there is a lot to learn from these games. We are 0-3 but it’s been by a total of just 12 points, and we could easily be 3-0. We are a young team and we have to put these games into perspective. We are gaining valuable experience early in the season that will pay off later.”
Late in the game, the ‘Roos cut a seven point Cougar lead with 2:54 remaining down to one at 77-76 with a 9-3 run that featured a three from senior Eilise O'Connor and a layup with 30 seconds remaining from sophomore Kelsey Barnwell.
After a UMKC foul, SIU Edwardsville (1-2) would miss two free throws, but on the ensuing Kansas City possession a turnover by the ‘Roos gave the ball back to the Cougars.
SIUE would convert both foul shots this time, and a desperation three from freshman Calli White at the buzzer was no good giving the home team the win.
“Losing is not fun, there’s no question about that,” O’Connor said. “The one silver lining, however, is in our three losses is we have beat ourselves and that’s something we can fix. With a large group of underclassmen, whom we are relying on to play big minutes, we have to take these losses and look at them as an opportunity to learn. We will make adjustments and we will have a winning season. You can believe that.
O’Connor led Kansas City (0-3) with a game-high 23 points and four rebounds, including knocking down all 10 of her foul shots, while White was the only other ‘Roo in double figures, finishing with 16 points and eight assists.
In the opening half, the ‘Roos took a 14-12 lead after a pair of threes by junior Lexis Hardiek and a jumper by White, but the Cougars would twice build their lead to eight, including at the 5:59 mark at 30-22.
Kansas City, though, outscored SIUE 15-7 the rest of the half to send the game into the locker room tied at 37.
Coming out of the break, the Cougars stretched their lead back to seven, but the ‘Roos countered with an 8-0 rally, with six coming from O’Connor, to take a 47-46 lead.
Kansas City extended the lead to 56-54, but that would be the last lead the ‘Roos would hold, as SIU Edwardsville built their lead to seven before coming away with the 79-76 victory.
Offensively, the ‘Roos shot 88.2 percent from the line, knocking down 15-of-17, and finished with 17 assists on 27 field goals, while out-rebounding the Cougars, 45-39.
Individually, Barnwell ended the night with nine points, three assists and three rebounds, with Hardiek and Taylor Leathers both scoring eight.
“I’m still unbelievably excited to play on the court with all 12 of these girls in my final season,” O’Connor added. “These losses will not define this team or this season.”
The Blue & Gold will be back in action again on Wednesday when they welcome in Toledo for the home opener at the Swinney Recreation Center on Nov. 20 at 7 p.m.