March 12, 2009
By Shalae Patrick
ST. CHARLES, Mo. - The Southern Illinois women's basketball team faced Evansville for the second time in six days, this time for a chance to advance in post-season play, but couldn't pull out the sweep. The Salukis fell to the Purple Aces, 58-53, in the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Thursday night in Family Arena.
Evansville (12-18) used an 8-to-1 first half run, to go up by six, 13-7, their largest lead of the period.
Southern Illinois (9-19) was held scoreless from the field for nearly eight minutes, 0-for-9 from the field during that stretch. The Salukis used two Erica Smith free throws, a Jasmine Gibson layup and another layup by Smith to even things up at the 7:30 mark, 13-all.
The lead would change hands three more times before Karlee Myers intercepted a pass, taking it in for a layup, drawing a foul with 15 seconds left in the half to break a 23-23 tie. She missed the free throw, but helped the Salukis to a two-point lead, 25-23, at the break.
SIU shot 32 percent (8-of-25) from the field in the first half, just 1-of-7 from beyond the 3-point line.
In the second half, the lead changed hands five times before Evansville took the lead for good at the 11:24 mark on a free throw by Stephanie Bamberger.
The Purple Aces extended their lead to as many as 11, with less than two minutes remaining in the contest on a jumper by Shannon Novosel.
The Salukis persevered with a Smith jumper, Alex Hart 3-pointer and Christine Presswood bucket in three trips down the floor to pull back within four, 55-51, with 24 seconds left in the game, but it wasn't enough.
Smith ended her career with an eight point, six board effort and Adrianne Griffith posted seven points and a game-high seven rebounds before fouling out with just under four minutes to play.
Once again, Novosel led her team in scoring, this time with a game-high 18, adding six boards and four first-half blocks. Stephanie Bamberger added 13 points and six rebounds for UE.
Thursday night's loss ended the careers of seniors Kaci Bailey, Gibson and Smith. The trio combined for 326 career games, 2,269 points and 1,178 rebounds in four years as Salukis.