Cartaesha Macklin (10 points, five rebounds) hit a free throw with :11 seconds left to put SIU up two for victory, 39-37.
Dec. 2, 2013
By Tyler Wooten
CONWAY, Ark. -- The Saluki women's basketball team staved off a late charge by Central Arkansas, defeating the Sugar Bears 39-37 on Monday night at the Farris Center for the first win of the Cindy Stein era.
Southern (1-5) took its largest lead of the game with :51 seconds left in the game after two free throws by Cartaesha Macklin put SIU up 38-33, but the Sugar Bears (5-2) quickly closed the gap to 38-37 on consecutive layups by Courtney Deuver and Maggie Proffitt -- the latter of which came on a turnover by Macklin.
UCA put sophomore Hannah Shores on the free throw line with :11 seconds left for a one-and-one. Shores missed the first shot, but Macklin was there to grab a clutch rebound and get fouled on her way up to the basket for two shots of her own. Macklin sank her second attempt to put SIU up 39-37 with seven seconds to play, and the Sugar Bears weren't able to get a play together as time expired.
Defensive stops were the name of the game for Southern, as it held a Sugar Bear offense that was averaging 67.0 points per game to nearly half that. Coming into the game, three of UCA's five starters were averaging double-figures, but the Saluki defense proved stout Monday night, holding the Sugar Bears to 25.9 percent shooting from the field. UCA's 18 second-half points are the fewest SIU has given up in a half since Jan. 29, 2011, when SIU gave up 14 points to Indiana State.
"This is the most physical game we've had all year long, so that was quite an adjustment," said SIU head coach Cindy Stein. "We've been used to not being able to touch them and them not being able to touch us, but it was pretty physical out there tonight. I don't mind playing like that and I don't think our kids mind it."
Southern held UCA's best player, Deuver (who averages 13.1 points per game), to a 1-of-9 clip from the field and three total points, thanks in part to superb defense by sophomore center Dyana Pierre. Pierre and Deuver canceled each other out as they both grabbed 11 boards but fell far short of their season scoring averages. Pierre still made her presence known with three blocks and three steals to help stymie the UCA offense.
"It wasn't a pretty game, but I thought our defense stepped up and did an amazing job," Stein said. "Dyana Pierre did an tremendous job on Courtney Deuver, who is one of the best players in the country."
Southern notched two double-digit performances out of Macklin (10 points, five rebounds) and sophomore Azia Washington (10 points, nine rebounds). In addition to Macklin's potential game-saving rebound, Washington was pivotal to the Saluki defensive success as well, with seven of her nine boards coming on the defensive end.
With the win, SIU snaps a six-game losing streak and a 22-game regular season losing streak dating back to Jan. 5, 2013 when the Salukis beat Drake in Carbondale, 77-70. With her first win now under her belt, Coach Stein sees progress in the right direction.
"We're getting better at understanding the speed at which we have to play, and the intensity and the sense of urgency," Stein said. "We're still not perfect yet, but I like the intensity, and that's half the battle. If we can get our kids working this hard every game, we always have a chance."
"I can't say enough about this team," Stein said. "When things didn't go well today, that's where we have usually have broken down. This team stood together and decided they were going to win this game, and they did."
Southern will conclude its five-game road trip on Wednesday with a modest trek down to Cape Girardeau, Mo., to take on Southeast Missouri at 6:30 p.m.