Freshman forward Azia Washington.
Dec. 29, 2012
By Bill Ford
CHICAGO-- Two Southern Illinois players finished with double-doubles in a 69-66 win over Chicago State Saturday at the Jones Convocation Center.
Sophomore guard Cartaesha Macklin scored a game-high 19 points with a career-best 10 assists and sophomore forward Azia Washington posted career highs of 17 points and 17 rebounds as the Salukis (3-8) won their second straight on the road to close non-conference play.
The Salukis led by as much as 19 points in the second half before the Cougars (1-12) made a late push to cut the margin to three in the closing minutes.
"It just came down to we really need to do a better job taking care of the ball and protecting the lead when you have a lead like that," said SIU head coach Missy Tiber.
SIU came out to a slow start as the Cougars grabbed an early lead, which they held through the first 10 minutes of the game. The Salukis finally jumped ahead with a 6-0 run to go up 17-12 with 8:19 remaining in the half. CSU fought back within one at 20-19, but Southern closed the half on an 11-4 run to take a 31-23 lead into the break.
"Azia really kept us in the game in the first half, pretty much single-handedly," Tiber said of Washington, who scored 12 points in the first half. "I was a little bit worried about her because she had a pretty bad cold, but she battled through it and toughed it out. She gave us what we needed."
SIU opened the second half with its best stretch of the game, extending its lead to 49-28 and holding onto a 19-point advantage as late as the 10:00 mark at 51-32. Sidney Goins sparked the Salukis with eight of her 13 points during that run, hitting several layups in transition.
CSU fought its way back into the game slowly over the final 10 minutes, taking advantage of a few Saluki miscues and constantly putting SIU on the free throw line, where Southern struggled all day. SIU went 12-for-24 from the free throw line in the second half alone before finishing at 52.9 percent for the game.
The Cougars closed within 68-66 with four seconds to play before fouling Macklin with three seconds left. Macklin hit one of two attempts and CSU's Caneka Davis missed a desperation heave at the buzzer.
"In the second half, we didn't know what to do when we were up 19. We didn't know how to handle it," Tiber said. "Mentally, we were worried about trying not to lose the game instead of just playing the game to win."
The Salukis also struggled from 3-point range in the game, managing just one trey on 17 attempts for a 5.9 percent clip.
"I don't remember a forced three. Maybe one out of the 17 was a bad look," Tiber said. "A lot of them were right on line, they just didn't go in the basket."
Nevertheless, the Salukis enter Missouri Valley Conference play at home next week on a two-game winning streak. Southern hosts preseason MVC favorite Creighton Thursday before welcoming Drake to Carbondale Saturday.