Jordyn Courier led the team with nine points in her final game.
March 13, 2014
By John Lock
ST. CHARLES, Mo. - The Southern Illinois women's basketball team ended the 2013-14 season with a 61-39 loss to Missouri State on Thursday night at The Family Arena. Saluki seniors Jordyn Courier (nine points) and Sidney Goins (eight points) led SIU in scoring in the final games of their careers.
"I thought today's game just came down to making shots," head coach Cindy Stein said. "I thought our defense was doing what we wanted it to do. If we could have hit some of those easy bunnies, I felt like we were in the game."
Southern (5-25) fell into an early 7-0 hole when Missouri State's defense held SIU to 0-for-7 shooting to start the game. From there, it was Southern's defense that clamped down. SIU held Missouri State to just 21.2 percent shooting in the first half, which was the best defensive half of the season, percentage-wise. SIU held the Bears without a field goal for two separate seven-minute stretches. Missouri State held a slim 25-24 lead at the break.
The Bears shot 50 percent in the second half but just 34 percent for the game, the third-lowest mark SIU had allowed all season and best since Dec. 2.
Though Southern held Missouri State's field goal percentage down, the Bears got 21 offensive rebounds and won the second-chance-points battle 18-7.
While Southern's defense was dominant, the Salukis struggled to score when their top-two scorers, Dyana Pierre and Azia Washington, were held scoreless in the first half. Pierre and Washington came into the game averaging a combined 25 points per game. Washington rebounded with a six-point, eight-rebound second half, but the lid remained on the bucket for Pierre, who ended up with five points on 2-for-12 shooting. Pierre led all rebounders with 11 boards. She ends the season with 287 rebounds, which ranks sixth in school history.
Southern shot just 29 percent for the game, including a 20 percent mark in the second half.
"It puts so much pressure on your offense when you can't hit a shot," Stein said. "We couldn't even get to the line. We didn't get to the line. We couldn't hit a shot. We didn't get some of the calls when we drove to the basket, and then we forced a bad shot. Those kinds of things snowball with a team that is learning so much along the way."
Southern's seniors picked up the scoring slack for SIU in the first half, combining for 17 of Southern's 24 first-half points, but both Courier and Goins would be held scoreless in the second half. Courier ends her career with 109 3-pointers, which ranks fifth in school history.
"I am proud of our team," Stein said. "I thought we continued to fight. Dyana Pierre has had a tremendous career, and we've got her back for a couple more years, which is awesome. Sidney and Jordyn have had a great four years. They've been through some rough times, but I think they've still had fun this year. I think those are positives. I hope they enjoyed their season. We had some good moments, and unfortunately we're going to have to say goodbye to them. I'm proud of their effort tonight."
Southern ran out of gas down the stretch. Missouri State closed the game with an extended 30-9 run after SIU closed within 31-30. Southern was scoreless for the final 5:22. SIU played all its available players for the 19th-straight game, but Missouri State was able to play 11 players double-figure minutes, compared to just seven for the Salukis.
The loss marks the end of the first season of Stein's tenure. Eleven of the 13 players on the roster are slated to return for 2014-15, including first-team All-Conference center Dyana Pierre. Preseason All-Conference player Cartaesha Macklin, Rishonda Napier, Alexus Patterson and Kiley Gorski all return after missing significant time this year.
"I think our team understands now what we need to do," Stein said. "We have a good foundation set. We look forward to having Cartaesha, Rishonda and Alexus back and having Kiley Gorski be healthy."