Injuries to two key players, Whitney McCray and Allison Blurton, figured heavily in a 44-28 SEMO Conference loss to the Notre Dame Lady Bulldogs on Thursday at the Field House.
Sikeston (4-9, 1-2 in the conference) has already experienced an early-season coaching change and mid-season player defections that have trimmed the present roster to only six.
"If something bad's going to happen, it seems like it's going to happen to us," said Sikeston coach Tiffany King.
Sikeston's leading scorer McCray tallied three points on the way to a 5-0 lead when she was lost for the evening with an injury midway through the first quarter. The initial prognosis on McCray is a twisted knee and a possible return to action early next week.
Sikeston's level of play, on both ends of the court, quickly diminished in her absence.
The offense never got untracked and the inside play of Notre Dame's post players Kristain Burger and Amanda Essner, who combined for 21 points, began to flourish.
"That definitely hurt them when McCray went down," said Notre Dame coach Jerry Grim. "She's a big girl and she gets in that lane pretty good."
Notre Dame (4-9, 2-0), with Burger scoring all the points, closed the gap to 7-6 as the first quarter expired. Junior forward Robyn Morris netted six of Sikeston's eight second-quarter points to lead the Lady Bulldogs to a 15-12 halftime advantage.
However, Notre Dame, sparked by an effective full-court press, opened the second half with a 12-0 run to grab control of the game.
Sikeston finally lit the scoreboard with 2:27 to go in a third period in which Notre Dame outscored them 18-4 for a 30-19 lead. Notre Dame held a 32-13 edge in the second half.
"The press was the key for us," said Grim. "They had a hard time with that and we were able to jump ahead a little bit."
Sikeston cut the margin to nine early in the final quarter, but got no closer when floor leader Ali Blurton came up limping with a severely sprained ankle that coach King described as "about the size of a softball." Blurton is expected to be out indefinitely.
Morris paced Sikeston with eight points and freshmen Martika Davis and Jordi Ferrell added seven and six, respectively.
Essner topped Notre Dame with 13 points; Burger scored eight.
"We were kind of undisciplined after Whitney got hurt," said King, "but the girls worked hard. If they keep working hard and we get everybody healthy, good things will come."