Salukis Host Illinois State on Friday Evening

    Mercedes Griffin is tied for third in the MVC in assists per game in MVC play with 4.3 per game.

    Mercedes Griffin is tied for third in the MVC in assists per game in MVC play with 4.3 per game.
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    Jan. 16, 2014

    Southern Illinois (3-12, 1-3 MVC) vs. Illinois State (2-11, 1-2 MVC)
     Date Friday, Jan. 17, 2014
     Time 6 p.m. CST
     Location Carbondale, Ill. -- SIU Arena
     Video Saluki All-Access

    Saluki Sports Network | 97.7 FM (Carbondale)

     Notes Southern Illinois | Illinois State | MVC
     Season Stats Southern Illinois | Illinois State | MVC
     Live Stats Gametracker | Valley Scoreboard
     Social Media @SIU_WBasketball | @ISUWBB

    The Southern Illinois women's basketball team takes on Illinois State at 6 p.m. CST on Friday night at SIU Arena. The Salukis (3-12, 1-3 Missouri Valley) are looking for their second conference win of the season and first victory over the Redbirds since the 2007-08 season. The game will be broadcast on 97.7 FM in Carbondale, with Bryce Williams (play-by-play) and Logan Lee (analysis) calling the action.

    Illinois State holds a 56-44 lead in the series, which began in 1962. The Redbirds have won 11-straight games in the series, and the Salukis are looking for their first win over Illinois State since a 72-69 road win over the Redbirds on March 6, 2008. Last year, the Salukis lost a tight three-point game at SIU Arena but got blown out by 48 points in Normal, Ill.

    The Salukis will hold Faculty and Staff Appreciation Night for Friday's 6 p.m. tip against the Redbirds. The pursuit of high education depends on high-caliber professionals who carry out the mission of the university each and every day. As a way to say thank you, tickets are just $2 for all SIU employees.

    In addition, fans can get merchandise at the SIU Team Store for 20 percent off at Friday's game only by redeeming a coupon at

    Illinois State enters the game at 2-11 overall and 1-2 in MVC play. Illinois State starts four guards and a forward and comes into the weekend as the lowest-scoring team in the conference, averaging 56.3 points per game; however, the Redbirds rank third in the conference in scoring defense, holding opponents to just 67.2 points per game.

    Chloe Nelson is the only Illinois State player to score in double-figures, and she averages 13.7 points per game. She also ranks eighth in the conference in assists, averaging 3.0 per game on the season. Octavia Crump leads the team in rebounding at 6.5 per game.

    "Illinois State is coming on strong right now. I think they've gotten through the growing process with the new staff. They are making better adjustments on the floor, knowing what Coach (Barb) Smith wants. You can see that in their play. They have a lot of hustle and are going to play a lot of kids. They play with a lot of energy, and now they're playing with a lot of execution, so they will be a tough challenge for us."

    In their only game last weekend, the Redbirds lost a close, three-point game to the preseason No. 2 team in the Valley, Indiana State. Illinois State led by a point at the halftime break, but Indiana State quickly got a lead in the second half and held the Redbirds at bay in the low-scoring 47-44 Sycamore win.

    The Salukis have posted mixed efforts in each of the first two weekends of MVC play. Two weekends ago, SIU won the conference opener in a thrilling 100-96 double-overtime game over Bradley. Two days later, Southern couldn't keep up with Loyola in a 60-48 loss.

    Last weekend, SIU played what head coach Cindy Stein deemed the team's most balanced effort of the year in a 74-72 loss at Drake, where the Bulldogs won on a putback with 1.5 seconds left. Two days later, however, Northern Iowa shot 50 percent from the field and ran away from SIU in route to an 87-53 win in Cedar Falls.

    Mercedes Griffin has stepped up in the point guard role during conference play. Griffin totaled 14 assists in 11 non-conference games (1.3 per game); but in just four MVC games this year, Griffin has racked up 17 assists (4.3 per game), which ranks third in the Missouri Valley. Griffin dished a career-best seven dimes to go along with her career-high 16 points in SIU's 74-72 loss at Drake.

    Azia Washington has come on strong lately for SIU. After scoring no more than eight points in the first five games of the season and no more than 14 in the first nine games of the season, Washington has scored 19 or more points in four of the last six games and averaged 17.8 points per game in those games.

    She posted her first double-double of the season with 27 points and 15 rebounds in SIU's double-OT win over Bradley. Against UNI, Washington scored 15 first-half points, the only Saluki with more than two points at the break.

    Dyana Pierre has made herself a double-double machine for the Salukis. Pierre has recorded a double-double in three of the last five games for SIU and has seven double-doubles in 15 games this year. In two years at SIU, Pierre has totaled 16 double-doubles. Against Bradley, Pierre put up 33 points and 18 rebounds, including eight offensive boards. In 15 games this year, Pierre has scored in double-figures 12 times and has recorded double-digit rebounds in eight games.

    Dyana Pierre and Azia Washington, the only two Salukis two have started all 15 games this year, have become two of the top rebounders in the MVC. Pierre ranks second in the conference in rebounding at 9.3 per game and 10.0 boards in three conference games so far. Washington ranks sixth in the conference in rebounding in all games at 7.3 rebounds per game and ranks seventh in conference play, averaging 7.8 boards per game. Washington's 7.3 rebounding average would lead six teams in the Valley, and her and Pierre are the only duo in the conference that both rank in the top seven in the MVC in rebounding in both all games and conference-only games. With Washington and Pierre leading the way, SIU leads the conference in defensive rebounding (28.3) and ranks third in offensive rebounding (15.0) in MVC play.

    Five of Southern's losses have come by single-digit margins, including four games decided by four points or fewer. Twice, SIU has has lost a two-point game with an opponent jumper with 1.5 seconds remaining, dropping games to Austin Peay and Drake at the last second.

    Sophomore center Dyana Pierre vaulted into the top-10 all-time in blocks in SIU history with her four blocks against Bradley on Jan. 2. After posting the fourth-most blocks in a single-season in school history in 2012-13 (36), Pierre now ranks eighth all-time with 63 career blocks, surpassing Saluki Hall-of-Famer Sue Faber with three blocks against Loyola. Pierre currently has 27 in 2013-14 and averages 1.8 per game, which ranks second the Valley. Pierre averages 2.0 blocks per game in MVC play, which is tied for third in the conference. Pierre leads a Saluki team that ranks third in the conference with 3.9 blocks per game.

    Southern has improved its defense from a season ago. After allowing 74.5 points per game in 2012-13, head coach Cindy Stein's crew is allowing only 70.8 points this year, a 3.7 points-per-game improvement even after giving up 96 points in a double-overtime win over Bradley and 87 to UNI. The Saluki defense currently ranks sixth in the 10-team league after placing 9th in scoring defense last season. The team's field goal percentage defense ranks third in the conference this year (.414). The Salukis held Drake, who entered their Jan. 10 matchup as the best 3-point shooting team in the MVC, to just 4-for-21 from long range (19 percent).

    The Last Meeting
    Illinois State71
    Southern Illinois68
    February 14, 2013
    Carbondale, Ill.
    Illinois State survives Salukis 71-68
    Southern Illinois guard Rishonda Napier's desperation 3-point attempt as time expired missed the mark, and Illinois State survived the Saluki women's basketball team 71-68 Thursday night at SIU Arena.

    In addition to defending better, the Salukis are also shooting better from the field than a year ago. The team's field goal percentage is up to .384 from .377, led by Washington and Pierre. Pierre ranks second in the conference, shooting 52 percent from the field, while Washington ranks sixth (.487).

    Southern's thrilling 100-96 double-overtime win over Bradley on Jan. 2 was a game that will be remembered not only by fans but by the SIU record books as well. Southern broke the school record in shot attempts with 92 against the Braves, toppling the previous record of 91 set on Nov. 21, 1980 vs. SEMO. SIU's triple-digit plateau was the first time the Salukis had crossed the 100-point plane since Mar. 5, 1984 -- the same game the school record for points in a game was set (101 vs. Indiana State). The combined 196 points scored registers as the fifth-most single-game points in a Valley game ever. The trip to double overtime was the first such game for SIU since Feb. 23, 1983 (Missouri, L, 83-76), and only the third in school history. Sophomores Dyana Pierre (33 points, 14-of-22 shooting) and Azia Washington (27 points, 12-of-19 shooting) set new career highs in both points, shots and shot attempts, and senior Sidney Goins (18 points) set a new career-high in three point field goals (6) and three-point attempts (14).

    The Salukis only scored eight bench points in its double-overtime victory over Bradley, but those eight points were crucial to SIU's success in the late stages of the game. Junior Ariel Haynes' lone point became the game-tying point to cap off an SIU comeback over the final minutes of the game. Haynes was fouled with 55 seconds to play and put on the free throw line, where she hit the first to tie the game 77-77, but missed the potential game-winner on her second attempt. In the second overtime, SIU received two surprising performances from freshmen Carlie Corrigan and Kim Nebo after three Saluki starters (Pierre, Shores and Washington) had fouled out. Corrigan took control of the game with 1:20 to play in the second overtime, when she got a layup to fall after being fouled on her hard drive to the rim. She missed the free throw, but Nebo was there to pick up the board. Nebo missed the putback, but Corrigan was on the other side of the glass for a rebound and another shot attempt, which fell as she was fouled again to tie the game at 94-94. After Griffin's layup to take the lead with 14.4 seconds, Nebo proved invaluable on the ensuing BU possession. After BU's Catie O'Leary missed a layup with six seconds, Nebo came down with the game-winning rebound and was promptly fouled. She sank her free throws for the final points of the game to push SIU into triple digits.

    The 2013-14 season is the first at SIU for head coach Cindy Stein, who inherited a team that went 5-26 in 2012-13 and didn't win more than eight games in the previous four seasons. Stein comes from Illinois Central College, where she coached ICC to a 32-4 record and a third-place finish at the NJCAA Division II national tournament during her lone season in 2012-13. Prior to Stein, ICC had gone 16-16 in 2011-12. Stein's coaching profile includes a successful 12-year stint at Missouri and a three-year period at Emporia State to start her head coaching career. Over 16 seasons as a head coach, Stein holds a 282-206 (.578) record, three NCAA Tournament appearances, a Sweet 16 run in 2001 and three trips to the WNIT -- all at Missouri.

    First-year SIU head coach Cindy Stein spent 12 successful seasons in Columbia, Mo., at the helm of Missouri's women's basketball program from 1998-2010. Stein inherited a Tiger basketball team that went 11-16 in 1997-98 and turned that around to 21-10 and a trip to the Sweet 16 by only her third season at Mizzou in 2000-01. Stein's run with the Tigers saw 185 wins, five WNBA Draft selections and seven postseason appearances -- including three NCAA Tournament appearances (2001, 04, 06). Stein's players earned 24 All-Big 12 honors (four First-Team) and 46 Academic All-Big 12 nods.

    Coach Stein brings a brand new support staff with her to Carbondale. Andrea Gorski (associate head coach), Kat Martin (assistant coach/recruiting coordinator), Christelle N'Garsanet (assistant coach), Amanda Hanneman (video coordinator) and former Saluki head coach Julie Beck (director of operations) round out the new crew in the Boydston Center offices. Gorski comes from Concordia University, where she turned around a sub-.500 club into a national NAIA powerhouse in five seasons. Martin comes from Kishwaukee College, where she was the associate head coach for six seasons. N'Garsanet, a former standout of Stein's at Mizzou and a 2006 WNBA Draft selection, spent two years at Illinoic Central College -- including Stein's 32-4 season in 2012-13. Hanneman is also a former player of Stein's at Mizzou from 2006-10, and she spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach at Sonoma State. Beck returns to Carbondale for her 30th year in Saluki Athletics as the director of operations. Beck was an assistant coach under Saluki Hall of Fame head coach Cindy Scott from 1981-1998, took over as head coach from 1998-2000, and worked in marketing and group sales for Saluki Athletics an additional 10 seasons after her coaching career ended.

    Southern Illinois was voted to finish tenth in the Missouri Valley Conference in 2013-14 in a preseason poll release on Oct. 30 at media day at Loyola University in Chicago. Indiana State was chosen to win the Valley crown with 26 first place votes, followed by Wichita State in second place with 13. Southern was voted to finish eighth in 2012-13, but finished tenth at the end of the season after posting a 5-26 record, which included a 1-17 conference record.

    Dyana Pierre moved onto the SIU single-season during her freshman season in 2012-13 with 36 total blocks, the fourth-best total in school history. Pierre blocked a career-best five shots Nov. 17, 2012, against Loyola, making her only the second SIU player in the last 12 years (CiCi Shannon) to block five shots in a game. That total is tied for the eighth-highest single-game total in SIU history.

    The flagship station for Saluki women's basketball is WVZA 105.1 FM, although 10 regular season games will be broadcast on WHET 97.7 FM due to conflicts with SIU men's basketball broadcasts. Bryce Williams is in his second season as the full-time radio broadcaster for Saluki women's basketball, while Logan Lee enters his first season as the team's color commentator.

    The official Twitter of Saluki women's basketball is @SIU_WBasketball. This account features team news as well as live in-game updates. Fans can also follow Saluki Athletics @SIUSalukis for news on all SIU sports.

    Coverage for every Saluki women's basketball game is available online though Saluki All-Access at A live audio stream will be available for every game and live video will be available for all home games. Saluki All-Access also has on-demand content for all 18 Saluki sports.

    SALUKI NEWS ONLINE is the official website for SIU Athletics. It is the best source for up-to-date information on the Saluki women's basketball team. Rosters, box scores, cumulative statistics, pre-game notes and other materials are available on the site. You will need Adobe Acrobat to read PDF files.

    SIU is 43-71 during the month of November since the 1974-75 season.

    SIU is 99-114 in the month of December since the 1974-75 season.

    SIU is 159-153 in the month of January since the 1974-75 season.

    SIU is 171-147 in the month of February since the 1974-75 season.

    SIU is 51-64 in the month of March since the 1974-75 season.