Jan. 26, 2012
By Bill Ford
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois women's basketball team came back from a halftime deficit to handily defeat Murray State 74-57 Thursday night at SIU Arena.
The Salukis (5-14, 1-7 Missouri Valley Conference) trailed 37-30 at the break before outscoring the Racers (8-12, 4-3 Ohio Valley Conference) by 24 points in the second half.
"I was upset at halftime because we weren't doing the things defensively we were supposed to do," Tiber said. "Then we bought in and did exactly what we were supposed to do defensively in the second half and it became a track meet for us."
Southern struggled early in the game as two members of the starting backcourt were forced to the bench. The Salukis' top defender, Mercedes Griffin, was sidelined after picking up her second foul early on, and starting point guard Cartaesha Macklin took a seat after coming out flat.
"Cartaesha and Mercedes sitting on the bench in the first half makes it difficult for us to compete at the style of play that we want to play," Tiber said. "We're not near as good when those two girls are sitting on the bench, that's just the fact of the matter. Cartaesha makes a lot happen on offense and Mercedes makes a lot happen on defense."
With two of its top athletes sitting on the bench, Southern had problems with Murray State's quickness. Racer guard Erica Burgess and forward Kayla Lowe both tallied 13 points in the first half.
"We just weren't being aggressive enough. We had plenty of misses in the first half but we only had five offensive rebounds," Tiber said. "That's how I know that we aren't mentally not doing the things that we are capable of doing."
SIU came out of the locker room and played some of its most inspired basketball of the season. With Macklin and Griffin back to re-engergize the lineup, the Salukis quickly took back the lead with a 12-2 run in the first five minutes.
The Racers posted a four-point rally to pull back within 44-43 at the 13:39 mark, but Southern controlled the tempo the rest of the night. The Salukis went on a 10-2 run to push the margin to double figures and led by as much as 21 before settling on the 17-point win.
"Randomly I looked at the stats in the second half and I saw it was 27-8 in the half in our favor and I was really pleased with that," Tiber said.
Macklin scored 18 of her game-high 20 points in the second half while Antishia Wright had her best game as a Saluki with 15 points and nine rebounds.
"That was one of her (Wright's) best games for us and she missed a couple of shots in the second half that went in and popped out," Tiber said. "I think she's finally getting to be the player that we thought she was capable of being."
SIU wrapped up non-conference play 4-7 for the season. The Salukis will be back on the road Sunday to kick off a three-game road swing at Evansville.