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December 29, 2008

Soaper's career-high lifts Eagles past Wayne State,
Stein becomes program's all-time winningest coach

at Southern Indiana (7-4): 80
Wayne State (2-7): 75
Box Score

Rinesha Soaper

EVANSVILLE, Ind.University of Southern Indiana women's basketball Head Coach Rick Stein is now the program's all-time winningest coach thanks in large part to the effort from freshman guard Rinesha Soaper's (Henderson, Kentucky) in the Screaming Eagles' 80-75 victory over Wayne State University Monday night at the Physical Activities Center.

Soaper scored a career-high 26 points and had five steals off the bench to help lead the Eagles to their third straight win and Stein to his 160th career victory at the helm of the USI women's basketball program.

Rick Stein

"Rinesha sparked us tonight," Stein said. "Her defensive intensity really brought our level of play up. She had five steals for the game and I think every one of them came in transition."

With USI trailing 32-31 in the waning moments of the first half, Soaper recorded a pair of steals and hit six straight free throws to cap off a 9-0 run that gave the Eagles a 40-32 edge at the break. Senior forward/center Ninette Evans (Memphis, Tennessee), who had nine points and six rebounds off the bench, started the run with an old-fashion three-point play.

"I thought from top to bottom that we had some players that really made a difference for us tonight," Stein said. "Our bench out-scored them 37-16. It is huge when you know that your bench can pick you up like that and it was a major factor for us tonight."

Soaper had eight points, including a pair of three-pointers, in a 10-3 run that gave the Eagles a 60-44 lead with less than 12 minutes to play in the contest.

Wayne State (2-7), however, fought back, using a game-high 28-point effort from junior guard Brooke Bowers and a 12-0 run to cut the Eagles' lead to four points with eight minutes to play.

USI, though, countered the Warrior's push with a 7-0 surge that lifted its lead back to double-digits (67-56) with less than seven minutes remaining on the clock.

The Eagles got some key contributions from sophomore guard Ellen Young (Salem, Illinois) and junior guard/forward Abby Williams (St. Joseph, Illinois), who combined for six of USI's seven points during the 7-0 run. Young scored all eight of her points in the second period, while Williams added five of her nine points in the final 20 minutes.

Sophomore guard Lauren Meneghetti (Munster, Indiana) added 13 points, while senior forward/center Brittany Neuman (Huntingburg, Indiana) scored seven points and brought down nine rebounds. Sophomore guard Amie Newhart (Mulberry, Indiana) also had six points and a game-high five assists.

"There has been a lot of talk about the record, but for us it's been about the next game," Stein said. "For this team, it's been about whose coming next and how we are going to get the next win. We've been going possession-by-possession with this team.

"I've been blessed to have a great crew and great players throughout the years," Stein continued. "My 20 years here have been fantastic as a player, as an assistant, and as a head coach. I'm looking forward to the Saint Joseph's game, to the rest of this year, and hopefully 20 more years to come."

USI hosts Saint Joseph's College Friday at 5:15 p.m. in a men's and women's GLVC doubleheader. The Eagles also host the University of Indianapolis Sunday at 1 p.m.

Dan McDonnell,
USI Sports Information

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