Freshman guard Rishonda Napier
March 15, 2013
By Bill Ford
ST. CHARLES, Mo. -- The Southern Illinois women's basketball team couldn't overcome its first-half struggles in a 60-43 season-ending loss to Creighton Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
The Salukis (5-26, 1-17 MVC) set a new program record for fewest points in a half with nine in the opening frame and trailed 22 points at the half. Southern ralled back within 13 in the second half, but Creighton's first-half cushion proved insurmountable.
"Obviously, we were struggling really bad in the first half to score," said SIU interim head coach Adrianne Harlow. "Credit Creighton. Their defense was very good, but I thought our energy wasn't the same as it was yesterday to start the game."
Southern shot an abysmal 15.8 percent from the field in the opening frame, making just three field goals on 19 attempts. The Salukis had fits against Creighton's swarming perimeter defense, turning the ball over 12 times in the first half, and at one point going through a 9:19 stretch without a field goal.
"It was real frustrating. They knew all our sets and they were doing a lot of trapping," Harlow said. "When they started taking us out of our game, instead of fighting back we kind of fell into a snowball effect, got frustrated and lost our confidence."
The Bluejays (24-6, 15-3 MVC) were especially effective in stopping SIU's leading scorer, sophomore guard Cartaesha Macklin. Macklin scored 32 points in SIU's first-round win over Evansville, but Creighton held her to a season low-tying two points.
"Today, I didn't play my role like I should have," Macklin said. "It was very frustrating. They did a good job of clogging up the paint and I couldn't get a lot of inside layups like I wanted to."
"In the second half they really battled and made a game of it there for a little bit," Harlow said. "I told them all I wanted them to do was bring energy and get a different mentality about what we can do. They did, and I was proud of them for that."
Rishonda Napier scored 20 points to lead the Salukis while Sidney Goins chipped in eight points and Dyana Pierre added eight rebounds. Jordan Garrison and Marissa Janning led a balanced Creighton scoring attack with 11 points apiece.