March 8, 2014
By John Lock
PEORIA, Ill. - The Southern Illinois women's basketball team dropped its regular season finale to Bradley on Saturday afternoon at Renaissance Coliseum, 86-68. Dyana Pierre led the Salukis with 27 points, nine rebounds and four blocks, but Southern (5-24, 3-15 MVC) couldn't keep up with Bradley's break-neck pace through the second half.
"We got picked apart today," head coach Cindy Stein said. "I didn't think we always had the energy we need to play with. We definitely didn't have the execution."
In a matchup that pitted one of the fastest-paced teams in the MVC (Bradley) vs. one of the slowest (SIU), the Salukis started running at the Braves' pace from the opening tip. The fast pace fared well for SIU in Carbondale, when the Salukis got a 100-96 win on Jan. 2, but Southern's offense fizzled midway through the second half on Saturday afternoon.
SIU jumped out to an early 7-0 lead and forced an early Braves timeout. Bradley regrouped and held a six-point lead before Sidney Goins hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the first half to cut SIU's halftime deficit to 40-37.
Both teams were shorthanded. SIU dressed only nine players, and Bradley dressed only eight. With players fearing foul trouble due to short benches, both teams had their way in the paint offensively. At halftime, 26 of Southern's 37 points were in the paint, and 22 of Bradley's 40 points were in the paint.
Bradley maintained a small lead for the first few minutes of the second half, but SIU tied the game at 46 with 15:45 to play. From there, Southern's offense stalled and Bradley went on a 19-5 run to seize command of the game.
Dyana Pierre had another monster game for SIU. She had 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting in the first half alone. She finished the game with 27 points on 12-for-16 shooting and added nine rebounds and four blocks.
"Unfortunately, besides Dyana, we really didn't have a lot of other weapons," Stein said. "We really struggled to find someone else to score on a consistent basis."
Southern Illinois shot 52 percent in the first half but was limited to just 36 percent shooting in the second half. Bradley, meanwhile, shot 47 percent in the second half.
With the loss, SIU will be the No. 10 seed in the MVC Tournament and will face either Illinois State or Missouri State, depending on the outcome of tomorrow's Wichita State vs. Missouri State matchup. SIU's game will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday night.