Feb. 11, 2012
By Bill Ford
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois women's basketball team couldn't find an answer for several long Creighton runs in an 80-64 loss to the Bluejays Saturday at SIU Arena.
In a game of constant momentum swings, the hot shooting Bluejays (13-11, 7-6 MVC) extended their scoring runs beyond what the Salukis (7-17, 3-10 MVC) could match.
"I'm extremely disappointed that we've been a quality defensive team for most of the year and we allowed a team to come on our home court and shoot 53 percent and score 20 above their average," said SIU head coach Missy Tiber.
The first half was one of constant momentum shifts as the teams traded runs throughout the first 20 minutes. Creighton jumped out to the early lead and never trailed throughout the half, but SIU tied the game four times in the first 10 minutes.
The Jays finally created some distance with a 10-0 run to take a 23-13 lead and force an SIU timeout with 8:11 to play. SIU responded with a 4-0 run, but Creighton stormed right back with an 8-0 run to push the margin back to double figures at 31-17.
SIU bounced back with its strongest run of the half, scoring nine unanswered to draw back within 31-26 with just under 3:00 to play, but the Jays ended the half on a 6-2 run to take a 37-28 lead into the locker room.
"Our radio guy asked me before the game what our key to the game was and I said that I thought today it was going to be our mental effort when we stepped on the court today," Tiber said. "I just don't think mentally we were anywhere near where we needed to be."
The teams continued trading runs to start the second half, but Creighton slowly began to stretch the margin to 56-40 with 13:01 remaining. Southern rallied with a 9-2 run over the next five minutes to cut the margin to seven, forcing a CU timeout with 8:27 remaining.
The seven-point deficit is as close as the Salukis could get, though, as the Jays kept getting the ball to their top scorers, Sarah Nelson and Carli Tritz, who finished with 25 points and 19 points respectively. Creighton pushed the lead as high as 18 before settling on the 16-point win.
"It wasn't as much post defense as it was guards," Tiber said. "Yes (Nelson) had 25 points but how did she get most of them? When my post-player having to help a guard that wasn't guarding her man and Sarah was getting wide-open looks."
The Salukis face a challenge on the road next week as Southern will face the two teams currently tied for first place atop the MVC standings in Wichita State and Missouri State.
"You're getting ready to go on the road and play the two best teams in the league. You know in your mind that you must be ready to go," Tiber said. "I'm going to guess that our mindset will be very good because the players know they are two very good teams."
Note: Today's attendance was a season-best 1,009 thanks to the team's annual Pink Out promotion.