Three-pointers lift Salukis past Drake 77-70

    Junior guard/forward Jordyn Courier

    Junior guard/forward Jordyn Courier
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    Jan. 5, 2013

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    By Bill Ford

    CARBONDALE, Ill.-- A record 3-point shooting night gave the Southern Illinois women's basketball team its first Missouri Valley Conference win, 77-70 over Drake Saturday at SIU Arena.

    The Salukis (4-9, 1-1 MVC) connected on a school-record 15 3-pointers on 28 attempts (53.6 percent) as five different SIU players hit a trey.

    "The basket was pretty big today," said SIU freshman guard Rishonda Napier, who knocked down five 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 19 points. "Not just for me, but for my teammates as well."

    The game was a huge departure from the 1-for-17 3-point shooting effort the Salukis produced a week prior at Chicago State. SIU head coach Missy Tiber said it is all about setting an early tone for her team.

    "We've kind of had a roller coaster ride," Tiber said of the Salukis long range shooting. "If somebody starts of really well, we'll start off really well shooting. If someone starts bad, it's contagious."

    In Saturday's case, Napier and forward Jameeka Bouie got the ball rolling early for the Salukis. Bouie hit a pair of early jumpers and Napier connected on back-to-back triples to help SIU run out to a 10-2 lead. SIU did not trail in the game.

    The two teams traded runs throughout most of the first half until the Bulldogs (5-8, 0-2 MVC) finally rallied to within one at 23-22 with less than five minutes to play. The Salukis responded by nailing five 3-pointers in the final three minutes of the half to take a 35-28 lead into the break.

    SIU hit a blistering 9 of 16 from 3-point range in the first half alone (56.3 percent), while the Drake 0-for-5 from distance.

    The Salukis continued to save themselves with 3-poitners in the second half. After the Bulldogs used a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 48-46 with 11:07 left, SIU reeled off an 11-0 run on a three 3-pointers and a layup to give Southern its biggest lead at 59-46 with 9:12 to play.

    Drake battled back to within 60-56 a few minutes later before Sidney Goins hit a three and Cartaesha Macklin converted a 3-point play to put the Salukis back up 66-56.

    Drake resorted to fouling in the final three minutes, and the tactic almost worked in the Bulldogs' favor. SIU went 3-for-10 from the charity stripe between the 2:28 mark and the 0:38 mark, and Drake brought the ball down the court trailing 72-70 with about 30 seconds left.

    Luckily, the Bulldogs guard Mary Pat Specht missed a potentially game-tying 3-pointer and Macklin corralled the rebound, hit a layup in transition and drew a foul. Macklin went 3-for-3 from the free throw line in the final 21 seconds to put the game out of reach.

    "The kids have to learn through that," Tiber said of missing free throw late. "We missed them, but we got some stops on the defensive end and we got rebounds."

    Napier led four Salukis in double figures as Jordyn Courier had 16, also connecting on five 3-pointers, Macklin had 13 and Bouie had 11. Azia Washington chipped in 14 rebounds to help the Salukis out-rebound the Bulldogs 49-43, and Macklin also had eight rebounds and nine assists.

    "I challenged the girls before the game that we needed a great effort and we needed a great attitude. I said at the end of the game, we'll have great results if we do those two things. I think we worked our butts off and our attitudes were unbelievable."

    The Salukis have a week off before traveling to Evansville February 9 looking for their second-straight Valley win.

    "We're going to enjoy this win. We're going to take a day off, but then we're going to get in the gym and keep shooting a lot," Tiber said. "We'll enjoy it, but we'll get these kids ready for the next game."

    Note: SIU's school-record 15 3-pointers made is tied for eighth most in Missouri Valley Conference history. SIU's previous school record of 13 made 3-pointers came against Wright State on Dec. 14, 2010.