Dec. 10, 2011
By Bill Ford
DAYTON, Ohio — Missed free throws came back to haunt the Southern Illinois women’s basketball team in a 61-59 loss to Wright State Saturday at the Nutter Center.
Saluki guard Antishia Wright missed a potentially game-winning 3-pointer as time expired, but the shot wouldn’t have been necessary if Southern (3-5) had taken advantage of earlier opportunities from free throw line. SIU shot 57.1 percent from the charity stripe (16-for-28), missing six out of eight in the game’s final minutes.
“I’m not very pleased with the way we shot free throws. That single-handedly lost us the game,” said SIU head coach Missy Tiber. “You can’t miss 12 free throws on the road and think you are going to win games.”
SIU started strong against the Raiders (5-3), jumping out to a 7-2 lead and pushing the margin as high as 21-12 at the 10:08 mark of the first half. Teri Oliver had the hot hand for the Salukis early, scoring 14 of her game-high 26 points in the first 10 minutes of the game.
WSU used an 8-0 run to cut the Saluki lead to one point over the ensuing two minutes, however, and the Raiders eventually took their first lead of the game with under four minutes to play. WSU scored the final five points of the half to take a 35-28 lead into the break.
Tiber said the Salukis’ continued struggles rebounding cost her team in the first half. The Raiders out-rebounded Southern 28-12 in the opening frame.
“I pitched a fit in the locker room at halftime,” Tiber said. “We were down 16 rebounds in the first half and we out-rebounded them by eight in the second half.”
SIU mounted an 11-0 run out of halftime, taking a 39-35 lead in the first four minutes. The Raiders marched right back in front, however, pushing the margin as high as seven at 48-41 with 10:08 remaining in the game. The Salukis struggled during the run to contain Raider center Molly Fox who paced WSU with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Southern was able to make a late run once Fox was benched with her fourth foul around the 4:00 mark. Southern scored six straight with Fox out of the game to take a 58-56 lead with 1:58 to play.
“That’s what basketball is about — it’s a roller coaster ride,” Tiber said. “I like our kids’ mindsets that we are going to fight even when we get down.”
The Salukis saw the lead disappear quickly, however, as WSU guard Kim Demmings converted a 3-point play to take the lead back at 59-58. The Raiders put SIU guard Teri Oliver on the line at the other end of the floor, but Oliver missed both free throws.
After Demmings hit another layup to push the margin back to three points, SIU guard Cartaesha Macklin earned a trip to the line with just under a minute to play. Macklin hit her first free throw and missed the second.
SIU got a stop on the ensuing Raider posession, and eventually called a timeout with six seconds remaining. During the timeout, the SIU coaching staff drew up a play to set Wright up for the last shot.
“We got a wide open look — almost too wide open,” Tiber said. “I am disappointed that it got to that. We had every opportunity down the stretch with the lead to shoot free throws and ice the game.”
Macklin scored 11 points with six rebounds, three assists and three steals for the Salukis while Brooke LeMar added 10 points and three assists. Also for SIU, Alexus Patterson pulled down 13 rebounds for her second-straight double-digit rebounding game.
The loss marked the third time Southern has fallen on the road by six points or less. Much like previous losses to Austin Peay and Northern Illinois, the Salukis had their fair share of chances to win in the waning minutes.
“There were some tears in some kids’ eyes. They know we are right there and they are disappointed,” Tiber said. “To come on the road and play as tough as we did and come away not winning, it’s disheartening.
“I’m proud of the way our kids fought, and I’m proud of our effort.”
Southern will have seven days off before continuing its five-game road swing December 18 at UT Martin.