Central Arkansas tops Salukis 59-46 in season opener

    Junior Jordyn Courier had nine points for SIU.

    Junior Jordyn Courier had nine points for SIU.
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    Nov. 13, 2012

    Box Score |  Photo Gallery 

    By Bill Ford

    CARBONDALE, Ill.-- The Southern Illinois women's basketball team couldn't find an answer for Central Arkansas forward Megan Herbert in a 59-46 loss to the Sugar Bears Tuesday night at SIU Arena.

    The nation's active leader in double-doubles went off for 32 points and 24 rebounds as SIU (0-1) dropped its season opener for the fourth consecutive season.

    "She's a good player. She never stops," SIU Sophomore Alexus Patterson said of Herbert. "We've got to get a mindset to be a player like her."

    Aside from Herbert, SIU held UCA (2-0) in check throughout much of the night. The Sugar Bears only shot 31.4 percent from the floor (16-for-51) and turned the ball over 20 times. Unfortunately, Southern struggled just as much offensively, shooting 28.6 percent (20-for-70) and posting 17 turnovers.

    "We got 70 shots, but they are not high efficiency shots. I was a little disappointed in that," said SIU head coach Missy Tiber. "It was too many one-pass quick shots for us today when we could've gotten a better look."

    SIU's offensive struggles were especially apparent in the first half when the Salukis shot just 18.2 percent from the floor (6-for-33). Southern scored the first four points of the game, but then scored just three points over the next 14:22 of play.

    The Salukis scored six points in the closing three minutes to pull within 24-13 at halftime. SIU avoided tying the lowest scoring half in school history, which was 11 points in the first half against St. Louis in the 2009-10 season opener.

    "It's hard to look at the stat sheet because I know we are better than that," said SIU junior Jordyn Courier. "In practice lately, we have been playing really well on offense. It's disappointing to see how we played today."

    The two teams traded points throughout the first five minutes of the second half before SIU made it's best run at UCA. Courier hit a 3-pointerand converted a 3-point play on back-to-back possessions to pull within 36-31 at the 13:30 mark.

    SIU later drew within four points at 42-38 with 10:02 to play, but that is as close as Southern could manage. UCA clung to a 6-to-8 point cushion for much of the remainder of the game before pulling away for a 13-point victory with late free throws.

    "We had that little run when we did get stops and we were blowing them right off the court," Tiber said. "Then we didn't convert on a couple of fast breaks that we had the opportunity to. We could have swung the game right then."

    Patterson led SIU with 11 points and six rebounds while Courier chipped in nine points and Dyana Pierre added nine rebounds. The Sugar Bears out-rebounded SIU 55-39 and shot 36 free throws to SIU's nine as Southern was whistled for 27 fouls to UCA's 14.

    "Lots of our fouls were on offensive rebounds and being out of position. We'll get better at that," Tiber said. "They shot 25 percent from the floor, but they got tons of offensive rebounds in the second half."

    SIU will look to even its record on the road Saturday as the Salukis travel to Chicago to take on Loyola.

    "I know we'll get better," Tiber said. "I'm just a little disappointed that we weren't a little more efficient on offense tonight."