Sophomore Dyana Pierre recorded her 11th career double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds against the Illini Thursday night.
Nov. 21, 2013
By Tyler Wooten
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- A 22.6 percent mark from the field couldn't keep the high-flying offense of the University of Illinois Fighting Illini in check in a 78-43 loss on Thursday night at the State Farm Center.
The Salukis (0-4) started out the season hot from the field after outshooting Wright State and Austin Peay, but Southern has slumped this week with a percentage of 44.6 against IPFW on Monday to accompany tonight's low mark. The Saluki women haven't posted a mark from the field that low since Jan. 29, 2011 (22.6, Indiana State).
Southern was able to keep an Illini (4-1) offense that averaged 96.0 points per game under 80 for the first time this season, but the lack of consistent offensive production couldn't make up for that.
"If we hit some of those wide-open shots it's a different ball game, and we didn't," said SIU head coach Cindy Stein.
Down as much as 22-8 in the first half, the Salukis clawed their way back within striking distance of the Illini, but with 3:57 to go Illinois went on a tear and scored 13 unanswered to go up 41-21 at the half. Southern showed some resilience to start the second half, but the debt was insurmountable and the Salukis were never again within 18 points.
"They're averaging 96 points and we held them to 78, that's hopefully something," Stein said. "We knew they were a potent offensive team. We knew that the key for us was to shoot well. We were gonna have to shoot well to keep up with them and put the numbers on."
The Illini had four players in double figures, including leading scorer Jacqui Grant (15 points, 50.0 FG percentage) and season leading scorer Amber Moore (14 points, 4-10 three-point FG). Fouls were a problem for both teams but Illinois, like most Saluki opponents this season, was able to take advantage of their tries from the free throw line (12-of-18, 66.7 percentage) and off of Saluki turnovers where they converted 25 points off SIU mistakes.
Missouri Valley Conference preseason all-conference honoree Cartaesha Macklin was kept quiet all game until the 5:57 mark in the second half when she scored her only points of the game on a layup. The Saluki bench wasn't able to hold up their end of the bargain either with 15 total points and 11 of Southern's 21 turnovers.
Sophomore center Dyana Pierre was a bright spot for Southern, though, with her 10 point, 12 rebound and four block performance for her 11th career double-double -- her third this season in four games. It was Pierre's worst shooting performance from the field (3-of-9) this season, but she stepped up when it counted on the free throw line, sinking half of her free tries (4-of-8). On the season, Pierre is currently averaging a double-double with 13.0 points per game and 10.8 rebounds.
"Dyana is just gonna get better and better," Stein said. "We've just got to keep her out of foul trouble. Even when she's standing still she gets a foul."
After being held to zero points and one rebound in the first half, sophomore forward Azia Washington put up eight points in the second half and ended up with seven total boards. Washington has been a spark for the Salukis in her four starts this season, where she has been a nice compliment to Pierre in the post with 5.8 points and 7.8 rebounds.
SIU, now at 0-4 for the fourth time in five years, will hit the road to Huntington, W. Va., next Wednesday, Nov. 27, to take on the Marshall Thundering Herd.