Feb. 2, 2012
By Bill Ford
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The Southern Illinois women's basketball team hit a wall on the road Thursday night, falling to Northern Iowa 73-51 at the McLeod Center.
The Salukis (6-15, 2-8 MVC) struggled to score just 20 points in the first half before letting the Panthers (14-7, 7-3 MVC) run away with the game in the second.
"Mentally, we just weren't where we needed to be," said SIU coach Missy Tiber. "As a coach, it's my job to make sure we are better prepared to be able to handle that."
Southern's offense struggled out of the gate, scoring just four points in the first 10 minutes as UNI built a 19-4 lead.
"We missed a bunch of easy shots. It wasn't because we weren't getting good looks at it." Tiber said. "We missed so many shots easy that just took us out of the game."
The Salukis found some offensive rhythm in the back end of the first half, outscoring the Panthers 16-15 in the final 10 minutes to pull within 34-20 at halftime. The Salukis shot just 26.5 percent from the floor in the opening frame (9-for-34), while picking up 14 first-half fouls.
Despite the first-half deficit, Tiber said she felt her team responded well from a sluggish start and she wasn't disheartened by the halftime margin. Southern came out of the half on a 7-3 run to cut the lead to 10 points in the first two minutes.
"I thought we settled down in the first half," Tiber said. "I thought we would be OK to start the second half and I liked our confidence level coming out of the half."
Just when it looked like the Salukis were starting to turn the tide in their favor, though, the wheels fell off completely. The Panthers went on a 22-5 run over the next eight minutes to push the margin to 27 points at 59-32 with 10:37 remaining.
"We just kind of lost our minds and we looked like a bunch of young kids running around out there," Tiber said. "We are young and we make a lot of crazy decisions sometimes."
The Salukis look to bounce back Saturday at Bradley to end a three-game conference road swing.
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