Wichita State holds off Salukis 72-59

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    Jan. 25, 2013

    Box Score |  Photo Gallery 

    By Bill Ford

    CARBONDALE, Ill.-- Career nights from Rishonda Napier and Dyana Pierre weren't enough to propel the SIU women's Basketball team past the top team in the Missouri Valley Conference Friday night at SIU Arena.

    Wichita State (12-6, 6-0 MVC) held off Southern's second-half rally for a 72-59 win to stay unbeaten in MVC play. SIU (4-13, 1-5 MVC), showed some resilience after trailing by as much as 18 in the second half, but the difference in the game was the Shockers' 28 points off 21 Saluki turnovers.

    "I thought we had a chance, but we missed some key plays maybe a veteran team understands," said SIU interim head coach Adrianne Harlow. "(Turnovers) have been a constant issue, and something that we keep harping on and we are going to do our best to get that fixed."

    SIU struggled out of the gate, going scoreless through the first six minutes of the game as the Shockers jumped out to a 12-0 lead. The Salukis responded with a 7-2 run to pull back within 14-7, but WSU scored the next four unanswered to go back up by double figures.

    The two teams fought back and forth throughout most of the first half with the Shockers leading by as much as 14. WSU appeared to be taking a 41-26 lead into the break, but the officiating crew determined Shocker guard Jessica Diamond's jumper at the buzzer came just after time expired, and SIU trailed just 39-26 at the break.

    "I thought they played hard out of a shaky start," Harlow said. "They started to settle down and fought back from numerous deficits and played really hard."

    The Shockers ran out to their biggest advantage in the first two minutes of the second half at 45-27, but Southern didn't go away. Much like the first half, the Salukis hit just enough shots to keep the game from getting out of hand.

    Midway through the half, the Salukis began a serious run at the Shocker lead, sparked by three unanswered 3-pointers by Napier. Down nearly 20 points less than two minutes of playing time earlier, the Salukis were all of the sudden within six at 54-48 with 8:33 to play.

    "I've always believed shooting is contagious in either direction. When you are on a roll and you are hitting them, everybody else feeds off it," Harlow said

    After Napier's 3-point barrage, the Salukis began pumping the ball inside to Pierre, who scored SIU's next 11 points and ripped down several key rebounds.

    "In practice it was all about rebounding. I think I just carried it over into the game," Pierre said. "We found out that `Thunder' was working in the post, so we kept going with that."

    Pierre kept the Salukis within a six to 10-point margin until the final two minutes when the Shockers began the stall game and SIU resorted to fouling. WSU hit 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch to put the game on ice.

    Napier tallied a career-best 23 points on 6-for-9 shooting from 3-point range and Pierre scored a career-best 17 points to go along with 15 rebounds. Also for SIU, Cartaesha Macklin added 12 points and five assists. Napier's six 3-pointers is tied for 5th-most in SIU history for a single game.

    WSU's Chynna Turner led all scorers with 22 points while Alex Harden added 15 points and seven assists. The Salukis out-rebounded the Shockers 36-29, but WSU had only seven turnovers to SIU's 21.

    SIU looks to end its four-game losing streak Sunday afternoon as the Salukis welcome Missouri State to SIU Arena.