Salukis fall to Loyola, 60-48

    Sophomore Azia Washington (21 points, 8-of-13 shooting) has scored 55 points over her last three games.

    Sophomore Azia Washington (21 points, 8-of-13 shooting) has scored 55 points over her last three games.
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    Jan. 4, 2014

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    By Tyler Wooten

    CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Saluki women's basketball team came out flat in the first half and never recovered in time as it fell to the Loyola University-Chicago Ramblers, 60-48, at the SIU Arena on Saturday.

    The Salukis (3-10, 1-1 MVC) were coming off a thrilling double-overtime victory in the conference opener over Bradley (100-96) on Jan. 2, but couldn't replicate the energy or intensity of that win against the Ramblers (5-9, 1-1 MVC) -- who rode to victory on the backs of center Cate Soane (14 points, three blocks) and MVC blocks leader Troy Hambric (12 points, 11 rebounds).

    "I was really surprised about our mentality," said SIU head coach Cindy Stein. "I thought we would play with more spirit and fire, and I felt like we were having to drag it out of them. That shouldn't happen."

    The Salukis received yet another 20-point performance from Azia Washington (21 points, 8-of-13 shooting) and another double-double from Dyana Pierre (11 points, 11 rebounds), but received only 16 points from the remainder of their roster.

    "(Loyola) weren't playing us any harder than Bradley was, and honestly I can say they weren't playing us as hard," Washington said. "We just didn't come to play today."

    "This loss was very surprising to me," Pierre said. "I thought getting that win (against Bradley) would boost us up, and we'd come out here and play as hard as we can and get another win, but it just didn't happen today."

    Washington and Pierre accounted for the first 17 Saluki points of the game -- 11 belonging solely to Washington. Loyola was able to exploit SIU's reliance on its inside presence, though, by forcing nine first-half turnovers that led to eight of their 37 points. SIU was within seven at the media timeout with 7:57 to play in the half, but the Ramblers went into the break on a 16-7 run.

    The Ramblers maintained the momentum at the start of the second half with a 13-6 run to take a 50-29 advantage by the media timeout at 11:11. The Salukis weren't able to cut into the LUC lead over the next seven minutes until they began a charge at the 4:31 mark. Over the remaining minutes of the contest the Salukis went on an 11-0 run, but it was too little, too late.

    "It's easy to play like that when you have nothing to lose, and that's not the mentality that we want," Stein said. "I like that we closed it out, we didn't tank because we definitely could have. A month ago we would have let them, so we have gotten better in that aspect."

    Southern received an impressive second-half bench performance from senior Jordyn Courier, who posted nine points, three rebounds and two assists in the latter half -- just two days after missing the Bradley game due to illness. But, the focal points of the offense were Pierre and Washington who, combined over their last three games this past week, have scored 120 points and grabbed 70 rebounds. The duo have accounted for 61 percent of SIU's offense in that same span.

    "We didn't share the basketball real well today, we were relying on (Pierre and Washington) too much, so we do have to find some shooters on the perimeter," Stein said.

    SIU was 48 hours off of a double-overtime marathon at tipoff against Loyola, but Coach Stein doesn't see fatigue as an excuse.

    "(Fatigue) doesn't matter," Stein said. "This is the Missouri Valley. You have one day in-between, and that's the thing."

    "Right now, it's not about wins and losses, we got to have the effort," Stein said. "If we had lost today and had the effort that we had against Bradley, I'd be saying a different story here."

    The Salukis will hit the road for the first time since Dec. 4 for its first road swing of the conference season in Iowa. First, SIU will visit the Drake Bulldogs (6-6, 0-1 MVC) in Des Moines on Jan. 10, and it will follow up with a trip to Cedar Falls to take on Northern Iowa (4-8, 0-1 MVC) on Jan. 12.