Sophomore guard Cartaesha Macklin.
Dec. 5, 2012
By Bill Ford
CARBONDALE, Ill.-- The Southern Illinois women's basketball team came back from a four-point deficit in the final 17 seconds to top Southeast Missouri State 58-57 for its first win of the season.
"Obviously I'm as happy as can be for the girls, because we've been working really hard even through our offensive lows," said SIU head coach Missy Tiber. "We just gutted it out and found a way to win."
Cartaesha Macklin's go-ahead free throw with 0.5 seconds remaining was the death blow, but the Salukis' made clutch plays on three consecutive possessions in those frantic final seconds to seal the win.
Macklin began the late-game push the same way she ended it -- on the free throw line. She nailed a pair of tosses with 17 seconds remaining to cut the SEMO lead to two points at 57-55.
Saluki forward Azia Washington picked up a steal on the Redhawks' ensuing possession and and dished it off to Rishonda Napier, who nailed a jumper in the lane to tie the game with nine seconds left. Macklin corralled another steal as SEMO brought the ball up the court and drew a foul with a half-second remaining.
Macklin nailed the deciding free throw and intentionally missed her second attempt to run out the remaining time, sealing a win that seemed improbable moments earlier.
"First of all I knew I was having a bad offensive game. I knew I just had to go out and play the rest of the seconds out," Macklin said. "When the girl threw it up the floor, I knew I could steal it. I just tried to reach my hand and not foul. Good things happen when you don't quit."
"I though our defense in the first half was phenomenal," Tiber said. "I thought we should have at least been up by 12 or 14 at the half because our defense was too good not to be up more than that."
Southern scored the first six points of the second half to push the lead back to 11 points at 33-22, but the Redhawks responded with a 16-3 run to take their first lead of the game 38-37 at the 13:31 mark.
The lead see-sawed back and forth throughout the remainder of the game as the two teams came to five ties and six lead changes in the second half. The Salukis never let the SEMO lead get past four points, however, and kept within striking distance for the final late-game push.
"It's a huge win for us," Tiber said. "I really believed that if we could just get one win under our belt it would change our mindset that if we can compete all the way to the end, good things can happen."
Southern will look to build on the win Saturday as the Salukis play host to Marshall.