By MARLON SCOTT | Senior Staff Writer
The Lady Govs basketball team had to pack their turkey leftovers with all the trimmings for the road. The day after Thanksgiving they continued on a seven-game road stretch to Illinois.

The Lady Govs first stop was in Edwardsville, Ill. against the SIU Edwardsville Cougars on Friday, Nov. 26. Then, they traveled to nearby Carbondale to hit the court against the Southern Illinois Salukis on Sunday, Nov. 28.

Neither stop was kind to the Lady Govs.

After losing 60-72 to the Cougars, the Lady Govs (1-6) went on to also lose against the Salukis 64-76. The two losses make three in a row and the fourth loss out of the last five games on the road.

Lady Govs vs. SIU Edwardsville

Lady Gov junior Whitney Hanley earned her first double-double of the season with 20 points and 12 rebounds against the Cougars. The only other Lady Gov to score double-digit points in the game was senior forward Dalila Thomas. She produced 12 points.

According to APSU Sports Information, head coach Carrie Daniels felt Hanley needed some help from the rest of the team.

“Whitney was definitely the only positive we had out there. She had a complete game for us across the board,” Daniels said. “I believe it was Whitney against SIU Edwardsville. If she had some help out there, maybe we could have been a little more competitive.”

Cougar guard Jazmin Hill led all scorers with 25 points. Two of her teammates, Sydney Stahlberg and Raven Berry, scored double-doubles.

The two teams looked even in the first 10 minutes of the game. Meghan Bussabarger scored two points, battling in the paint at the 10:50 mark to make the score 12-13. Then, SIUE’s Kenner Courtney responded with a three-pointer. The shot initiated a Cougar 7-0 run. The run established a lead the Cougars would maintain, but the Lady Govs would cut to three by halftime, 30-33.

Instead of closing the gap in the second half, the Lady Govs found themselves in a bigger hole.

The Cougars opened the second half with 11 unanswered points.

The Lady Govs shot just 39 percent (11-0f-28) in the second half and were outscored in the paint 34-24.

After failing to score in the first five minutes of the second half, the Lady Govs made a run to get within seven points of the Cougars, but could not overtake them.

Before heading into the next game, Daniels talked about her team’s inconsistencies.

“We have to get better as a team. I don’t believe we are in sync. We are not clicking or gelling,” Daniels said.

“The talent is there, we have seen good things in spurts, but we will make a run and then we fall apart, especially on the defensive end.”

Lady Govs vs. Southern Illinois

The Lady Govs followed the same losing recipe against the Salukis on Sunday, Nov. 28.

After keeping pace early in the game, the defense broke down and crucial mistakes allowed the Salukis to make a run that established a lead the Lady Govs could not overcome.

The breakdown came a little against the Salukis. At the 11:21 mark in the first half, the two teams were tied 15-15. Then, Sidney Goins hit a long three-pointer that started a Saluki 18-0 run. The Lady Govs were behind 33-15 with 5:28 left in the first half. They were able to cut the lead to 10 by halftime, 25-35.

“I think when teams go on runs and the game gets away from us, we settle on the perimeter shot,” Daniels said. “When the perimeter shot is in the flow of the offense, I am alright with that shot. However, when we make the defense work and look inside-out offensively our offense works better.”

Hanley led the team for the second game in a row with 20 points. Junior Jasmine Rayner scored 16 off the bench and Nicole Olszewski added 10 points. Goins led all scorers with 22 points and was one of five Salukis with double-digit points.

The Lady Govs continued to struggle shooting. They shot only 37 percent from the field (21-of-57). They won the rebound battle 29-20, but committed 22 fouls. The Salukis took advantage of the fouls and scored 34 points from the free throw line. They also capitalized on the Lady Govs turnovers, scoring 23 points from the miscues.

Hanley made a free throw to convert a three-point play with 13:27 remaining in the game to bring the Lady Govs back within one point of the Salukis, 44-45. They hung around without taking the lead for three minutes. Two consecutive defensive rebounds turned into four quick fast break points for the Salukis and inevitably sprouted into a 13-2 run which left the Lady Govs behind 50-61.

The Lady Govs would not get within 10 points the rest of the game.

Afterwards, Daniels talked about why her team lost their third straight game.

“I believe we are playing to lose instead of playing to win,” Daniels said.

“I know there is talent and capabilities on this team, but we are not playing up to those abilities. It’s disappointing and frustrating, but we have got to continue pushing and plugging away and hopefully one day it will click and we will see our potential on the court.” TAS