Saluki Freshman Cartaesha Macklin led SIU with 18 points and a career-best five steals.
Feb. 9, 2012
By Bill Ford
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois women's basketball team came back from a nine-point halftime deficit and held off a late Drake push for a 63-59 win Thursday night at SIU Arena.
A key stretch in the first eight minutes of the second half helped the Salukis (7-16, 3-9 MVC) close the halftime gap and take a lead they would not surrender the rest of the night.
"I didn't yell at halftime, I coached them. We made adjustments and talked about some things that were bothering us," said SIU head coach Missy Tiber. "I'll give our guys some credit for as young as we are we could have easily just been stubborn about it but we fought through. We came out in the second half and really guarded, then Teri (Oliver) made some crucial threes to start the run."
Southern fell into a hole out of the gate as the Bulldogs (11-12, 5-7 MVC) ran out to a 2-9 lead. The Drake defense gave the Salukis fits early, holding SIU's leading scorers Teri Oliver and Cartaesha Macklin scoreless through the first 9:30.
Mackin eventually shook loose to score a layup and a jumper on consecutive possessions to help Southern cut the margin to 14-12, but the Salukis couldn't get over the hump. The Bulldogs fought back push the lead as high as 11 with under a minute to play before Macklin hit a putback at the buzzer to pull within 30-21 at halftime.
The MVC's leading scorer and rebounder, Drake center Rachael Hackbarth had her way early, falling just a rebound short of a first-half double-double. Hackbarth had 13 points and nine boards at the break.
"I was disappointed at the beginning of the game," Tiber said. "The first half was too similar to the last two games we played."
The Salukis, and Oliver in particular, came out of the locker room on fire. Oliver, who had an uncharacteristic shooting slump on the road last week, hit four 3-pointers in the first eight minutes of the second half to help SIU open on a 22-7 run.
"We talked at halftime about getting a little more action off of handoffs and ballscreens and it worked out perfectly," Tiber said. "When Teri made one, she embraced it and kept wanting the ball back."
The Bulldogs rallied over the next five minutes to cut the martin to one point with about seven minutes to play, but Southern never gave way. Southern used an 8-2 run, sparked by some key plays by Macklin and sophomore Jordyn Courier, to push the margin back to seven at 52-45 with under 5:00 to play.
Drake made another run to cut the margin to three at the 3:53 mark, but Macklin responded with a 3-pointer, a steal and a runout to give SIU its biggest lead of the night at 57-49 with 2:27 remaining.
The Bulldogs made one last push by fouling and sending Southern to the free throw line, which appeared to be working. SIU struggled to hit key free throws down the stretch, allowing Drake to draw back within 61-59 with 31 seconds left.
Saluki sophomore Brooke LeMar did, however, step up and hit a key pair of free throws with 17 seconds remaining to push the game back to two possessions. The Bulldogs missed a 3-point attempt late and Courier corralled the rebound to run the clock out.
"We were very resilient tonight, we fought," Tiber said. "When you can score 42 points in the second half at home you're doing something right."
Macklin finished with 18 points and a career-high five steals to lead the Salukis while Oliver chipped in 17 with a career-best seven assists. Hackbarth finished with game highs of 27 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs.
Southern shot 46.0 percent from the field (23-for-50), but only managed to hit 10 of 20 free throws. The game marked SIU's first win of the season wherein the Salukis scored less than 70 points.
SIU is back in action at 2:05 p.m. Saturday as the Salukis host Crieghton for the team's annual Pink Out game. Fans are encouraged to come to the game dressed in pink to help raise breast cancer awareness. The first 500 fans will receive a free T-shirt.