Dec. 7, 2010
By Bill Ford
NASVHILLE, Tenn. -- The Southern Illinois women's basketball team's second-half comeback fell short in an 81-68 loss at Vanderbilt Tuesday night.
The Salukis (1-6) rallied from 18 down early in the second half to pull within 53-51 with 8:58 remaining in the game, but the Commodores (5-3) wouldn't relinquish the lead.
"I'm proud of how our kids continued to work hard and were resilient in their effort tonight," SIU coach Missy Tiber said. "We had some kids step up and make some big plays. Our mindset was really good tonight."
The Salukis stuck with the Commodores through the game's first five minutes, keeping within 6-4 through the first media timeout. Southern scored just one field goal over the next five minutes, however, as Vanderbilt went on an 11-2 run to lead 17-6 midway through the half.
The Commodores pushed the lead to as much as 14 in the opening frame, but SIU stuck within 38-25 at halftime thanks to some big 3-pointers by freshman Sidney Goins. Playing in her home state, Goins had a big night for the Salukis with a team-best 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field and 5-of-8 shooting from 3-point range.
"I'm happy for Sidney," Tiber said. "We asked her to do something she hasn't done all year in running the point guard position for most of the second half. She did a great job of responding to that role."
The Salukis held a 20-15 rebounding advantage at the half, but sent the Commodores to the free throw line 12 times with Vanderbilt converting 10. SIU, meanwhile, shot just two first-half free throws.
Vanderbilt started the second half on a 5-0 run to take its biggest lead of the game at 43-25, prompting an SIU timeout. The Salukis played some of their best basketball of the season out of the timeout, posting a furious rally to pull within two points of a team that was nationally ranked throughout the first three weeks of the season.
SIU senior Katrina Swingler was a huge catalyst in the late-game run, scoring 15 of her 17 points after halftime.
"Charnise (Mitchell) and Katrina were the key to that run. They were getting some offensive rebounds and making some great hustle plays," Tiber said. "We need Katrina Swingler on the court. We are not the same team when she is not on the court."
Vanderbilt responded to the Saluki run by scoring seven unanswered to pull ahead 60-51. Once the Commodores found a rhythm, SIU couldn't claw its way back into the game.
The Commodores shot 30 free throws on the night compared with SIU's five. Vanderbilt forward Hannah Tuomi led all scorers with 29 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field and 11-of-15 shooting from the charity stripe.
"We had no answer for Tuomi. She's just a beast," Tiber said. "We have nobody with the size or strength to guard her."
The Salukis travel to Indianapolis Friday to take on Summit League member IUPUI.