SIU Ready to Play at Missouri State on Sunday

    Azia Washington is second on the team in both scoring and rebounding.

    Azia Washington is second on the team in both scoring and rebounding.
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    Feb. 1, 2014

    Southern Illinois (4-15, 2-6 MVC) at Missouri State (9-10, 4-4 MVC)
     Date Feb. 2, 2014
     Time 2:05 p.m. CST
     Location Springfield, Mo. -- JQH Arena (11,000)
     Video ESPN3 | Saluki All-Access
     Radio Saluki Sports Network | 105.1 FM (Carbondale) | Saluki All-Access

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

    The Southern Illinois women's basketball team travels to Springfield, Mo., to take on Missouri State on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. CST. The game marks the end of the first half the Missouri Valley Conference season, and the Salukis are going for three wins in the first half of the MVC season for the first time since 2009-10. The game is the second in a seven-game stretch in which Southern will play five road games.

    Southern Illinois trails the all-time series with Missouri State 43-26 in a series that dates to 1978. The Salukis dropped both games to Missouri State last season, losing by seven at both JQH Arena in Springfield and at SIU Arena. The last SIU win against Missouri State was on Jan. 19, 2012, and the last Saluki win at Missouri State was on Dec. 30, 2006, when Southern took home a big 63-38 win on its way to a 16-2 MVC season.

    Missouri State comes into the game at 9-10 overall and 4-4 in conference play. After losing three of four MVC games, the Bears have put together back-to-back wins over Illinois State, by three in Normal, and Evansville by 17 at JQH Arena on Friday night. The Bears started the season 1-6 but have won eight of 12 since, and six of those eight wins have come by double-digit margins, including three by 20 or more points.

    The Bears have three players average double-figure points, led by Kenzie Williams at 15.2 points per game. Tyonna Snow averaged 13.3 points, and Bry Snow averages 11.0 points and a team-leading 5.7 rebounds per game. Eleven players average double-figure minutes for the Bears.

    Missouri State is third in the conference in both shooting percentage and 3-point shooting percentage, and it leads the league in offensive rebounding at 15.0 per game; the Bears rebound a league-high 39 percent of their missed shots.

    Missouri State used a 23-5 run midway through the first half to run away from Evansville on Friday night, winning 87-70 at JQH Arena. All 12 players for Missouri State played at least 11 minutes, and 11 players scored for the Bears. They were led by Kenzie Williams, who scored 21 points in 20 minutes, and Tyonna Snow pitched in 17 points and seven steals in the win.

    Southern Illinois ran into the hottest team in the Valley on Friday night, falling 74-51 at Wichita State. The Salukis outscored the Shockers in the second half 40-35, but Wichita State, which is an undefeated 8-0 in MVC play, put the game away in the first half with a dominating defensive effort. Mercedes Griffin led the Saluki charge in the second half with 13 points and five steals in the second half alone. Jordyn Courier had a season-high 10 points, and Ariel Haynes pulled in a career-high eight rebounds.

    Dyana Pierre enters the game against Missouri State just one point shy of 500 for her career. With 24 points in her last game against Evansville, Pierre pushed her career average over 10 points per game, and currently averages 10.0 point per game over her 50-game career. She has already surpassed her scoring total from last season, piling up 261 points this year after scoring 238 in 2012-13. The sophomore is second on the team in career points, trailing only Cartaesha Macklin, who has 1,031 points in her career.

    The Salukis have not featured a consistent starting lineup. Southern has started nine different lineups in 19 games this season, and no one starting lineup has recorded more than three starts for the Salukis. Each of the last seven games have featured a new starting lineup, and 10 different players have started at least two games for the Salukis. Dyana Pierre and Azia Washington are the only two mainstays in the starting lineup, having both started all 19 games in 2013-14. Mercedes Griffin has also cemented her spot in the lineup, starting all eight conference games. Pierre, a sophomore, has been a staple in the lineup for her entire career, collecting 46 starts in her 50 games, including the last 45 consecutive games.

    Dyana Pierre has made herself a double-double machine for the Salukis. She leads the conference in 2013-14 with eight double-doubles in 19 games. In two years at SIU, Pierre has totaled 17 double-doubles, which is the most of any SIU player in at least a decade. Against Bradley, Pierre put up 33 points and 18 rebounds, including eight offensive boards. In 19 games this year, Pierre has scored in double-figures 14 times and has recorded double-digit rebounds nine times. After going four games without a double-double--her longest stretch of the season without one, Pierre put up 24 points and 14 rebounds against Evansville.

    In only 49 career games, sophomore center Dyana Pierre has already vaulted into the top 10 in career blocks in SIU history. After posting the fourth-most blocks in a single-season in school history in 2012-13 (36), Pierre now ranks eighth all-time with 67 career blocks. She surpassed Saluki Hall-of-Famer Sue Faber with three blocks against Loyola.

    With her one block against Indiana State, Pierre tied Faber's 31 blocks in 1982-83 for 10th most single-season blocks in school history. Pierre already has 31 blocks in 2013-14 and averages 1.7 per game, which ranks third the Valley. She has recorded at least one block in 15 of 18 games in 2013-14 and has more than one block in nine games.

    Mercedes Griffin taken settled in as the primary point guard for the Salukis. Though point guard is not the natural position for Griffin, she stepped into the role after no point guards were left on the roster when Cartaesha Macklin and Rishonda Napier were no longer available for the season. Griffin has seen her offensive numbers surge over the last few games, both scoring and passing. Griffin totaled 14 assists in 11 non-conference games (1.3 per game); but she surpassed that total in the first four MVC games this year. Griffin racked up 17 assists (4.3 per game) in the first four games and has 26 in MVC play (3.3 per game), which ranks ninth 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.

    Griffin has picked up her scoring, too. After scoring in double-figures once in the first 13 games this season, Griffin has piled up 74 points in the last six games (12.3 per game) and scored in double figures five times in that span, including a career-best 16 points at Drake.

    With the team having only nine available players, all nine have stepped up and contributed during MVC play. The entire available roster has played in every conference game. (Jordyn Courier was not available vs. Bradley due to illness.) Below is a list of contributions from all nine players through seven conference games:

    Carlie Corrigan picked up her first two career starts against Drake and Northern Iowa and responded with a career-high seven rebounds and a 3-pointer at Drake.
    Jordyn Courier came off the bench to score a nine points and added three rebounds and two assists against Loyola. She was also a spark-plug in the second half against Evansville and ended up with nine points, four rebounds, three assists, and two steals in the win. She scored a season-high 10 points against Wichita State, including a 5-for-5 effort at the free throw line.
    Sidney Goins knocked down six 3-pointers--the second-most in a single game in school history--and had a career-high five assists in helping SIU beat Bradley 100-96 in double-overtime.
    Mercedes Griffin had career highs in both points (16) and assists (seven) at Drake and has nearly doubled her scoring average and nearly tripled her assist average from the non-conference.
    Ariel Haynes totaled 10 points, three assists, and six rebounds on a weekend road trip against Drake and Northern Iowa. She pulled in a career-best eight rebounds at Wichita State.
    Kim Nebo hit the game-clinching free throws in double-overtime to clinch SIU's conference win over Bradley. Nebo also posted career-bests in points (nine) and rebounds (four) at UNI.
    Dyana Pierre had monster performances in both of Southern's conference wins, totaling 33 points and 18 rebounds to lead the Salukis to their win over Bradley. She posted another double-double, this time 24 points and 14 rebounds, in the win over Evansville.
    Hannah Shores had seven points, five assists and three rebounds in the win over the Braves.
    Azia Washington ranks second in the team in MVC play in scoring at 12.9 points per game and rebounding at 6.5 boards per game.

    The Last Meeting
    Southern Illinois74
    Missouri State81
    February 21, 2013
    Springfield, Mo.
    Missouri State gets past Salukis 81-74
    The Southern Illinois women's basketball team held off every Missouri State run except the last one in an 81-74 loss to the Lady Bears Thursday night at JQH Arena.

    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.

    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 70.6 points this year, a 3.9 points-per-game improvement even after SIU allowed four of its first five conference opponents to score 74 points or more. 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 fourth in the conference this year (.417). 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) and is No. 3 in MVC games in 3-point field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot only 23.5 percent from long range.

    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 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.

    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. You can like us on Facebook by clicking HERE.

    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.