Southern Falls to Wichita State, 74-51

    Ariel Haynes hauled in a career-best eight rebounds for the Salukis.

    Ariel Haynes hauled in a career-best eight rebounds for the Salukis.
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    Jan. 31, 2014

    By John Lock

    Final Stats | Final Stats (PDF)

    WICHITA, Kan. - The Southern Illinois women's basketball team ran into the hottest team in the Missouri Valley Conference on Friday night, dropping a 74-51 decision to Wichita State at Koch Arena. The Shockers controlled the game from the opening tip, taking a 17-3 lead early and 39-11 lead at the half. Southern outscored the Shockers in the second half but couldn't get closer than 19.

    Southern Illinois (4-15, 2-6 MVC) became the latest in a long line of victims against the Shockers. Wichita State, now 8-0 in the MVC, won its fifth Valley game by more than 20 points.

    "I vote in the mid-major poll, and I've been ranking (Wichita State) No. 1 for the last couple weeks," head coach Cindy Stein said. "I think they're outstanding. They have depth; they have great shooters; they have kids who can get to the basket; and they're probably one of the best defensive teams we'll play all year long."

    Wichita jumped out to a 17-3 lead at the second media timeout in the first half. Although Southern held the Shockers to just 4-of-15 (27 percent) shooting in that stretch, Wichita got seven offensive rebounds and forced seven SIU turnovers.

    The Salukis didn't roll over, though. Southern held Wichita without a point for the next three minutes and picked up three offensive boards, but SIU's offense still couldn't get going.

    "I would attribute (the slow start) to nerves," Stein said. "We're still young in our process of handling our nerves and our anxiety, and sometimes it shows and we're a little slower to the punch. I think we picked it up during the game and ended the game on a much better note."

    Southern held Wichita to 31 percent shooting in the first half, 15 points worse than its MVC-leading 46 percent average shooting percentage. The Salukis outscored Wichita State 40-35 in the second half.



    Wichita pressed and ran the floor throughout the first half, forcing 14 SIU turnovers and winning the points-off-turnovers battle 17-0 in the opening frame. The Shockers pulled off the press at the start of the second half, but Southern continued to play hard throughout the second half, forcing the Shockers to put back in the starters with eight minutes to play. Mercedes Griffin led the charge in the second half, piling up 13 points, five steals, and two blocks in the second half alone.

    Ariel Haynes came off the bench and pulled in a career-best eight rebounds. Jordyn Courier scored a season-high 10 points. Southern played all nine available players and all nine scored.

    "We won the second half, and that was our goal," Stein said. "We wanted to take something good out of this, and I thought especially our last 10 minutes we did a really good job."

    The latest setback for the Salukis this season came early in the second half, when star center Dyana Pierre's leg got caught under a falling Wichita player. She did not return to the game. After Pierre was injured, Kim Nebo and Azia Washington each fouled out with 12 minutes to play, leaving Southern with six available players and no post players for the the last 12 minutes of the game.