SIU Falls to Preseason MVC Favorite Indiana State, 63-44

    Mercedes Griffin played 39 minutes and scored 15 points in the loss.

    Mercedes Griffin played 39 minutes and scored 15 points in the loss.
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    Jan. 19, 2014

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    By John Lock

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois women's basketball team brought hustle and defense against preseason MVC favorite Indiana State on Sunday afternoon, but the Salukis couldn't generate enough offense to get a win. Indiana State improved to 5-0 in the Missouri Valley Conference with the 63-44 win at SIU Arena.

    "I really liked the way our kids rallied," head coach Cindy Stein said. "We still need to learn to finish people off."

    The Salukis (3-14, 1-5 MVC) started hot and built an 8-2 lead out of the gate. Indiana State responded with a 5-0 run, and the game remained a one-possession game for most of the first half. The Sycamores closed the half on another 5-0 run to push the lead to eight points at the break.

    Southern Illinois' defense kept it in the game for the first 35 minutes. Two days after allowing Illinois State to shoot 53 percent, SIU held Indiana State to 38 percent shooting for the game--the lowest shooting percentage SIU has allowed in conference play. Anna Munn, who entered the game eighth in the MVC in scoring at 14.0 points per game, was limited to seven points on 2-of-7 shooting.

    Indiana State extended the lead to 13 points with 9:18 left in the game, but Southern fought back and got within seven points with eight minutes to play. The Sycamores responded with a 10-0 run to put the game out of reach.

    SIU was led by Mercedes Griffin, who had 15 points and five rebounds in 39 minutes. The junior guard added two steals and was 5-for-6 from the free-throw line. Griffin, who averaged 5.2 points in the non-conference season, is averaging 12.3 points over her last four games.

    "I really enjoyed the play of Mercedes Griffin," Stein said. "I know she had seven turnovers, but gosh, she played hard. She was a leader out there. She kept us together. I felt like the brightest part of the game was her effort throughout the entire game."

    Azia Washington added 10 points and six rebounds, and Dyana Pierre led the team with eight rebounds and added eight points and two assists.

    But Southern's offense couldn't get going during the game. SIU shot just 35 percent from the field (17-of-49) and did not make a 3-pointer (0-for-7) for the first time since playing Southeast Missouri State on Dec. 4. The Salukis committed 27 turnovers on the night and had four four-minutes stretches without a field goal, including only one field goal over the final eight minutes of the game.

    "We did it to ourselves," Griffin said. "They sped us up by full-court pressing us and trapping us randomly. I felt like we just rushed our passes."

    The Sycamores held Dyana Pierre, who entered the game averaging 14.2 points per game on 53 percent shooting, to eight points on 3-of-10 shooting. Pierre was just 1-for-5 in the first half and scored six of her eight points after halftime.

    "They did a great job on (Dyana)," Stein said. "They put a lot of pressure on her. I felt like Dyana took herself out of the game at times, especially mentally, but she regrouped and came back and did some good things."

    Southern has a week off before facing Evansville next Sunday at 2 p.m. at SIU Arena.