Senior Charnise Mitchell pulled down a season-high nine rebounds in her last game at SIU Arena.
March 3, 2012
By Bill Ford
CARBONDALE, Ill. — Illinois State’s revamped second-half defense stymied the Southern Illinois women’s basketball team in a 72-50 Redbird victory in Saturday's regular-season finale at SIU Arena.
The Salukis (8-21, 4-14 MVC) trailed just 35-34 at halftime, but only managed four field goals and 16 points in the second half after some defensive adjustments by ISU (18-11, 13-5 MVC).
“I told the girls coming in it would take 70 points to win,” said SIU head coach Missy Tiber. “Scoring 16 points in a half — we are better than that. We just didn’t put the ball in the basket.”
Southern started the game as strong as it has all season, jumping out to a 9-2 advantage early and extending the margin as high as 23-9 at the 11:27 mark. At one point, Southern held the Redbirds without a field goal for nearly six minutes.
“We started the game unbelievable. Defensively, we had passion and intensity. We were scoring with consistency,” Tiber said. “The first possession they went to their press, we turned it over. Then we then turned it over four out of the next five possessions, and we never recovered after that.”
ISU rallied back with a 19-4 run to take its first lead of the game at 28-27 with just under five minutes left in the half. Southern briefly took the lead back, but the Redbirds pushed back ahead by as much as four before settling on the one-point halftime deficit.
Tiber said a key to the Redbirds comeback was the fact they kept point guard Jamie Russell in the game despite her having two fouls. Russell, who finished with a game-high 19 points, was a catalyst in ISU’s run.
“I think they were nervous because she had two fouls, and she is definitely their best player right now,” Tiber said. “But they put her back in and it made a difference for them.”
The Redbirds continued their tear out of the locker room, starting the second half on a 10-0 run. ISU started switching on ball screens on the perimeter in the second half and the Salukis struggled to find open looks.
“We made seven of 15 (3-pointers) in the first half,” Tiber said. “They were pretty frustrated, and they were not going to let us get any easy looks in the second half.”
Southern countered by driving to the hoop and pushing the ball into the paint. The Salukis missed several layups, however, as well as struggling from the free throw line. SIU went 4-for-27 from the field in the second half (14.8 percent), including 0-for-7 from 3-point range. The Salukis also went 13-for-23 from the free throw line (56.5 percent).
On the defensive end, Southern couldn’t’ do much to stop the Redbirds, who shot 45.2 percent (14-for-31) in the second half.
“Our defense was poor in the second half. We didn’t have the same intensity we did in the first half,” Tiber said. “When you can’t score, it’s almost like football where you feel like your defense is on the field the entire time.”
ISU pushed the lead as high as 26 points before settling on the 22-point win. The victory helped the Redbirds sew up the No. 2 seed in next week’s State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
Cartaesha Macklin led SIU with 18 points and six rebounds while Teri Oliver added 10 points and seven boards. On her senior day, Charnise Mitchell pitched in a season-high nine rebounds for the Salukis.
Southern will be the No. 9 seed in the MVC Tournament and will face No. 8 Bradley at 4:05 p.m. Thursday, March 8 at the Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo.