Salukis fall in last-second heartbreaker to Austin Peay, 71-69

    Junior Cartaesha Macklin scored 20 points, which puts her at 992 career points at SIU.

    Junior Cartaesha Macklin scored 20 points, which puts her at 992 career points at SIU.
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    Nov. 12, 2013

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    By Tyler Wooten

    CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Saluki women's basketball team lost in heartbreaking fashion on Tuesday night at the SIU Arena, falling to the Austin Peay Lady Governors, 71-69, on a last-second jumper with 1.5 seconds remaining.

    Junior guard Cartaesha Macklin (20 points, four rebounds, four assists) had just tied the game at 69-69 on the previous possession with a layup after she missed a three-point attempt for the lead and grabbed her own rebound. On the ensuing possession, the Lady Govs (1-1) ran the clock down as far as they could before APSU leading scorer Tiasha Gray (14 points, five rebounds) pulled up from the top of the key and bounced a jumpshot around the rim and in over SIU guard Mercedes Griffin.

    With 2:37 remaining, the Salukis (0-2) took the lead at 67-65 on a three-point shot by walk-on sophomore Hannah Shores (seven points), but things quickly went in APSU's favor. After getting a stop on the next Lady Gov possession, a Rishonda Napier (four points, five rebounds) turnover turned into a fast break layup by Alexis Hardaway, and a Shores turnover immediately after led to a layup to take a 69-67 lead with 1:41 left.

    The game was evenly fought, but the difference in turnovers -- SIU's 21 to APSU's 10 -- was the main difference in the end. The Lady Gov's not only forced double their own turnover total, but they scored 24 points off those turnovers, whereas Southern was not so lucky, as they were only able to land seven points off 10 turnovers.

    "When it comes down to the last play, and it's their best player versus your best defender, there's something you're doing right," said head coach Cindy Stein. "I think we kept their best shooters from getting good looks. I felt that our breakdown was on the offensive end tonight. There's always things defensively that you can do better, but offensively we let it slip. We turned the ball over way too much. They scored a ton of points off our turnovers."

    "Give credit to (Gray), she made a good shot," Macklin said. "It was just the little things that happened before that point that allowed that, so we have to do a better job with that. We weren't taking care of the ball, and down the stretch that was the most important thing. We have to adjust to that."

    In a game that featured 19 ties and 16 lead changes, the beginning was not exactly smooth sailing for the Salukis. The Lady Govs put up nine unanswered to start the game until Southern began a run of its own at 16:59. Over the next two and a half minutes, SIU went on an 11-0 run to take an 11-9 lead. From that point forward, no lead was larger than five points.

    "We started the game with a lackluster energy level, and you can't do that at home," Stein said. "I look at those things and I think that we could be really good when we've played people tough and we still didn't come with the energy."

    Macklin, who was on pace to pass 1,000 career points tonight after an 18-point first half, was held scoreless until her final layup to tie the game with :35 seconds left. The preseason All-MVC honoree played 20 minutes in the first half, but was held to only 11 minutes after notching her fourth personal foul. Macklin currently stand at 992 career points.

    Dyana Pierre (13 points, six rebounds) scored in double figures for the second consecutive game, but she was held to four points and two rebounds in the first half. Fellow sophomore Azia Washington picked up the slack with a superb game, grabbing 13 boards and eight points. Washington hauled in seven rebounds in the first half alone, but she, too, had four personal fouls and ended up with 23 minutes played.

    "Obviously there are some things in my game that I'm proud about, but if the team's not winning you take away all that," Washington said. "I would rather have a bad game and win than to put up nice stats and lose."

    "We have to play the whole game," Washington said. "There are some spurts where we play well, and there are some spurts where we don't. We gotta give it all for 40 minutes."

    Southern got production from its entire roster with 13 of its 14 players scoring points tonight. The Saluki bench was once again prominent with 20 points, most of which came from the walk-on Shores with seven points in 19 minutes. For the second consecutive game, SIU outshot its opponent (40 percent to 35.8 percent), out-rebounded the opposing team (49-36) and the Salukis' troubles from the free-throw line were rectified as well with an 18-of-24 mark from the charity stripe.

    However, a checkmark in the win column was just out of reach for the Salukis yet again. This heartache of a loss comes off the heels of a similar defeat at the hands of Wright State last Friday, when the Raiders edged the impressive Salukis in the home opener, 67-64.

    "I don't believe in moral victories," Coach Stein said. "I can't remember who said it, but they said moral victories are like drowning in only three feet of water when you're six feet tall -- you're still dead."

    "I'm encouraged because I think there's things that we're doing that's better than before," Stein said. "I'm discouraged, though, because I felt this was a game we let slip away, just like the game before. The key from this one is how do we respond from this? Turning the ball over like we did in those last few possessions, that's lack of confidence. And that's my job. I have to give them the confidence that they're going to turn the corner, so I put that on me."

    "We want wins so bad, sometimes it freezes us up," Stein said. "We've gotta get past that point, we have to knock that barrier down."

    Southern hits the road for a five-game road trip, with the first stop at IPFW in Fort Wayne, Ind., next Mon., Nov. 18.