Feb. 4, 2012
By Bill Ford
PEORIA, Ill. -- Offensive woes and struggles on the glass cost the Southern Illinois women's basketball team in a 66-50 loss Saturday at Bradley.
The Salukis (6-16, 2-9 MVC) suffered a season-worst 22-rebound deficit and shot just 30.4 percent from the floor (17-for-56) in a game that lasted nearly two hours and 15 minutes with 50 total fouls called.
"It was just an ugly basketball game both ways," said SIU head coach Missy Tiber. "I'm really disappointed in our effort. You can't give up 21 offensive rebounds and think you are going to be an up-tempo basketball team."
The Salukis battled the Braves (13-10, 4-7 MVC) to a close margin throughout the first half, despite going on a five-minute stretch without scoring. SIU jumped out to an early 4-0 advantage and held an 8-6 lead at the 14:29 mark of the first half. Southern didn't score again, however, until Cartaesha Macklin hit a jumper at the 9:31 mark to end a 7-0 Bradley run.
The Salukis kept the Braves in check over the next six minutes until Shronda Butts hit a 3-pointer to put Bradley up 25-18 with just under four minutes remaining. SIU rallied to within two points by the 2:52 mark, but the Braves scored the last four points of the half to take a 29-23 advantage into halftime.
Southern was whistled for 16 of their 28 fouls in the first half as the Braves made 13 free throws in the half compared with SIU's six. Also, Bradley held a 25-16 rebounding advantage at the break. The Salukis were able to stay in the game by holding the Braves to a 26.9 percent shooting clip (7-for-26) in the first period.
"I thought at times our defense was solid," Tiber said. "We held them to a decent field goal percentage."
The two teams traded baskets on the first few possessions out of halftime before the Braves pushed the margin to eight points at 35-27. Southern rallied back within 35-32 and came up with a big steal, but the Salukis turned the ball over in transition. Bradley hit a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, sparking a 9-0 run that pushed the lead to 12 points with 12:21 remaining.
"We still had plenty of opportunities in the second half. We would just do something crazy every time to shoot ourselves in the foot," Tiber said. "It's hard to compete when you cannot get a defensive rebound. When we did get the rebound and were able to get out and run, it was no problem."
Southern's leading scorers, Macklin and Teri Oliver, were held well below their season averages at 12 points and eight points respectively. The Salukis averaged 6.6 made 3-pointers per game entering the contest, but only managed two against the Braves on 17 attempts (11.8 percent).
Bradley's frontcourt tandem of MacKenzie Westcott and Leah Kassing had a field day inside against SIU as Saluki centers CiCi Shannon and Alexus Patterson both fell on foul trouble. Both players eventually fouled out.
Westcott led BU with 15 points and 13 rebounds while Kassing had 13 points and 11 boards. Bradley had its largest rebounding total since 2001 with 55 boards as three Braves players finished with double-digit rebounding totals.
"When you have your only two five spots sitting on the bench, it's definitely a factor," Tiber said. "We basically at times had five guards on the court."
The loss ended a three-game road swing for the Salukis. Southern will be back at SIU arena Thursday against Drake, looking to bounce back from a pair of lopsided losses.
"We have just struggled and we have to figure out where we are at and fix it," Tiber said.