March 8, 2012
By Bill Ford
ST. CHARLES, Mo. -- The Southern Illinois women's basketball team's season came to an end with an 85-67 loss to Bradley Thursday night in the opening round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
The Salukis (8-22, 4-14 MVC) played toe-to-toe with the Braves (17-14, 7-11 MVC) through the first 27 minutes, but a veteran Bradley team extended the game out of reach late .
"I was very proud of our effort today. I thought we played really hard," said SIU head coach Missy Tiber. "I knew we'd be facing challenges in this tournament with our lack of experience."
SIU played from behind the entire game, but Southern kept the margin close early. Bradley didn't lead by more than six throughout the first 16 minutes, and the Salukis managed to tie the game 20-20 at the 5:23 mark.
The Braves made a 12-2 run late in the half to go up 35-24 with 2:10 to play, but the Salukis hit some key 3-pointers to draw within 39-33 at the half. SIU hit five first-half treys compared to Bradley's one.
SIU opened the second half on a 6-0 run to tie the game at 39-39 in the first two minutes. The two teams traded baskets with the Salukis tying the game at 45-45 and 47-47, but Southern couldn't find a way to take the lead.
"I liked our mindset out of halftime," Tiber said. "We just couldn't get that shot to be ours to go up two. I would love to have seen how we would've reacted in that situation."
Southern held within four points with under 10 minutes to play before Bradley slowly began to distance itself. The Braves pushed the margin to double figures with 7:29 to play and extended to 75-61 two minutes later.
Late in the game, Southern started exhibiting some of the signs that are typical of a young team. The Salukis missed layups, gave up offensive rebounds and made careless turnovers. Often times, these mistakes resulted in having to foul Bradley in an attempt to recover, and the Braves hit 18 of 19 free throws in the second half.
"I was a little bit disappointed with our effort on the defensive end towards the end," Tiber said. "I really believe that if we could get stops, we could get some runs up and down the court."
Teri Oliver led Southern with 21 points while Alexus Patterson added 16 points and nine rebounds and Cartaesha Macklin chipped in 14 points and four assists. Shronda Butts led five Braves in double figures with 17 points while Catie O'Leary was close behind with 16.
Southern's final win total of eight from 2011-12 is one more win than the Salukis managed in the previous two seasons combined. The Salukis will only lose one player, senior Charnise Mitchell, heading into next season, and will and will add redshirts Dyana Pierre and Azia Washington into the mix along with 2012 signee Jameeka Bouie.
"I'm proud of this team and what we gave this year," Tiber said. "I'm just really looking forward as we continue to build our program with some of the young kids."