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January 03, 2008

Eagles hold off late charge to pick up road win

Southern Indiana (6-4, 1-1 GLVC): 77
at Missouri-St. Louis (3-7, 1-2 GLVC): 72
Box Score

ST. LOUIS, Mo.The University of Southern Indiana women's basketball team led by as many as 22 points early in the second half, but it was the free throws by sophomore guard VaNita Smart (Evansville, Indiana) and junior guard Carly Clendenen (Anderson, Indiana) that turned away a furious come-back attempt in a 77-72 victory over the University of Missouri-St. Louis Thursday evening.

USI (6-4, 1-1 GLVC) dominated the first half and opened the second period with a 7-2 run to build a 48-26 lead early in the second half.

Marshay Jolly

The Tritons (3-7, 1-2 GLVC), however, reminded the Eagles that nothing comes easy in the GLVC as they battled back, cutting the USI lead to one point with less that 30 seconds remaining. UMSL had a chance to take its first lead of the contest, but a missed three-pointer and a rebound by senior guard Marshay Jolly (Merrillville, Indiana) gave the Eagles the ball and a chance to extend their slim lead.

After Smart's free throws pushed USI's advantage to 75-72, another defensive stand saw Clendenen come up with a rebound with less than 15 seconds to play in the game. Clendenen sunk both free throws to give USI its winning margin and turn back the Tritons' comeback bid.

"We did a good job of getting a big lead, but UMSL didn't quit," USI Head Coach Rick Stein said in his post-game interview WSWI's Mitchell Wolf. "I was really proud of the way we finished the game."

The Eagles, though, needed a big cushion and they got one as they jumped out to a 17-point halftime advantage. Junior forward/center Ninette Evans (Memphis, Tennessee), who made her first start of the season, scored two quick baskets to open the contest as USI forged a 12-2 lead less than four minutes into the game.

Jasmine Baines

USI shot 50 percent and got 12 of senior forward Jasmine Baines' (Jeffersonville, Indiana) game and season-high 27 points in the first half to go into the locker room with a 41-24 lead.

Baines, who left briefly after taking a tough spill, returned late in the game to record a big block and drain a pair of free throws in the final minute of the contest. She added seven rebounds and four blocks to her scoring tally.

"She's a warrior and a competitor," Stein said of Baines following the game. "She didn't want to come out."

USI also got a strong effort from Jolly, who finished with 12 points, including a momentum-changing three-pointer midway through the second half. Junior guard Brittany Darden (Guthrie, Kentucky) added eight points and five assists, while Smart finished with six points and three assists to go along with a game and career-high nine rebounds.

Clendenen chipped in seven points, while freshman guard Amie Newhart (Mulberry, Indiana) added six points and four assists. Junior forward/center Brittany Neuman (Huntingburg, Indiana) added five points and eight rebounds.

The Eagles return to action Saturday at 1 p.m. when they travel to Rolla, Missouri, to take on the Missouri University of Science and Technology. Missouri S&T (7-2, 2-1 G

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