CiCi Shannon posted nine rebounds and five blocks for the Salukis against Evansville.
Jan. 29, 2012
By Bill Ford
EVANSVILLE, Ind. — A key second-half run and timely defensive stops helped the Southern Illinois women’s basketball team to its first Missouri Valley Conference road win of the season, 74-60 Sunday at Evansville.
Southern (6-14, 2-7 MVC) led by nine at halftime, but the Purple Aces (4-16, 1-8 MVC) rallied to tie the game 43-43 with 12:53 remaining. The home team appeared poised to take over the lead, but the Salukis came up with a stop on defense and went on to hit 3-pointers on the next three possessions to push the margin back to nine points.
“It wasn’t pretty,” said SIU head coach Missy Tiber. “At times we had some defensive lapses. But when they cut the lead, we made some defensive stops that we needed to. Then we made some crucial shots down the stretch.”
The two teams battled back and forth throughout the first 10 minutes of the game before the Salukis went on a 14-0 run to break open a 12-point lead at 29-17 with 6:37 remaining in the half. The Aces scored five straight to cut the margin to seven, but Southern extended it back to 12 with a jumper by Antishia Wright and a 3-pointer by Teri Oliver with just under 2:00 to play.
Southern forced turnovers on UE’s next two possessions, but couldn’t convert on the offensive end to extend the lead. Saluki point guard Cartaesha Macklin missed an open layup with just under a minute to play and Evansville guard Staci Gillum hit a 3-pointer on the other end to cut the Saluki lead to 34-25 at the half.
“That took momentum for them into the locker room at halftime,” Tiber said. “If you go into the locker room down 14 and not nine, it is a completely different mentality. I think that was a factor for us coming out of the locker room.”
Evansville center Samantha Heck, who finished with a game-high 21 points, finally hit a layup to knot the game at 43-43. Southern responded immediately with a 3-pointer by Oliver and the Salukis got the ball back on the next two possessions for treys by Macklin and Wright.
“We withstood the run. We never let them take the lead,” Tiber said. “We bent, but we didn’t break and that was important.”
Evansville came back to cut the lead to three again, but the Salukis responded with a 9-1 run to extend the margin back to double figures. Southern pushed the lead as high as 17 points with 58 seconds remaining before settling on the 14-point win.
Oliver led SIU with 20 points, five rebounds and four assists while Macklin added 18 points and five assists and Alexus Patterson chipped in 12 points and eight boards. Tiber said the most underrated performance of the night came from sophomore center CiCi Shannon, who pulled down nine rebounds and blocked five shots.
“CiCi played a great game,” Tiber said. “She did everything she needed to. She was a difference-maker on the interior.”
The Salukis shot 47.5 percent form the field in the game (28-for-59), including 40.9 percent from 3-point range (9-for-22). SIU also forced 21 Evansville turnovers for the game.
The Salukis begin the second half of MVC play Thursday at Northern Iowa before concluding their three-game road swing Saturday at Bradley.
Note:Southern’s sixth win Sunday marks the most wins the Salukis have posted in a season in Tiber’s three seasons at SIU. The Salukis won five games in Tiber’s inaugural season before posting tow wins last season.