SIU Goes for Season Split vs. Drake on Saturday

    Mercedes Griffin notched career highs with 16 points and seven assists against Drake earlier this season.

    Mercedes Griffin notched career highs with 16 points and seven assists against Drake earlier this season.
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    Feb. 7, 2014

    Southern Illinois (4-17, 2-8 MVC) vs. Drake (10-11, 4-6 MVC)
     Date Feb. 8, 2014
     Time 1:05 p.m. CST
     Location Carbondale, Ill. -- SIU Arena (8,339)
     VideoSaluki All-Access
     Radio Saluki Sports Network | 97.7 FM (Carbondale) | Saluki All-Access

     Notes Southern Illinois | Drake | MVC
     Season Stats Southern Illinois | Drake | MVC
     Live Stats Valley Scoreboard | Gametracker
     Social Media @SIU_WBasketball | @BulldogWBB

    The Southern Illinois women's basketball team will try to avenge a two-point loss to Drake on Saturday afternoon at the SIU Arena at 1:05 p.m. When the teams played in Des Moines, Drake made a put-back with 1.5 seconds left to take a 74-72 win.

    The Southern Illinois vs. Drake game on Feb. 8 is the Go Pink game. Southern Illinois will wear unique, pink jerseys for the game. Ten winning bidders had the opportunity to put the name of their choosing on the back of a jersey, including the opportunity to honor a survivors or victims of cancer. The winning bids totaled more than $4,000, all of which is going to the Hope is Home campaign, Southern Illinois Healthcare's fundraiser for a new, comprehensive cancer center in southern Illinois. After the game, the players will present the game-worn jerseys to the winning bidders to keep. Bidders will have the opportunity to take the jerseys home immediately or have the jerseys washed and then mailed to them. Combined with the three years of the Black Out Cancer annual football game and jersey auction, Southern Illinois athletics has raised more than $200,000 for the Hope is Home campaign.

    The Last Meeting
    Southern Illinois72
    January 10, 2014
    Des Moines, Iowa
    Salukis Fall in a Heartbreaker at Drake
    The Southern Illinois women's basketball program lost a heartbreaker at Drake on Friday night, falling 74-72 at the Knapp Center.

    The Salukis are 26-50 against Drake in a series that dates back to 1980. SIU and Drake split the season series in each of the last two years, and Southern will need a win on Saturday afternoon to secure a split this year after dropping a last-second 74-72 heartbreaker in Des Moines on Jan. 10. SIU has won three of the last four meetings between the teams in Carbondale, with the only loss in that stretch coming in 2010-11. Last year, Southern got a 77-70 win at SIU Arena for its only MVC win of the season.

    Drake has won three-straight MVC games after starting conference play 1-6. Drake's three-game winning streak includes a big upset win over Northern Iowa last weekend. Trailing most of the game, Drake hit a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left to secure a 66-64 win.

    The Bulldogs are led by Kyndal Clark. She averaged 17.1 points per game, which ranks third in the Valley. Lizzy Wendell averaged 14.3 points per game, which ranks eighth in the MVC. Wendell also leads the team in rebounding averaging 5.8 boards per game.

    The Drake Bulldogs topped Evansville on Thursday night 72-57, burrying 14 3-pointers in the win. Wendell hit a career-best six of those 3-pointers and scored 27 points. Drake led the game wire-to-wire and by as many as 20 points. Clark added 21 points, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals, and Caitlin Ingle put in 15 points and seven rebounds.

    Southern Illinois started both halves slow in a 78-48 loss to Northern Iowa on Thursday night. UNI started the game by hitting seven of its first nine shots and built a 19-point first half lead. The Salukis tightened up, allowing only two Panther field goals in the final eight minutes of the first half and ended the half on an 8-2 run to get within 12 points at the break. But the Panthers hit back-to-back three-pointers to open the second half and ran away with the 30-point victory. Dyana Pierre led the Salukis with 15 points. Jordyn Courier had nine points and five rebounds for Southern, all of which came in the first half.

    The game time for the Southern Illinois vs. Wichita State clash on March 1 has been set for 6:05 p.m. CST at SIU Arena.

    PIERRE 50TH TO 500
    Dyana Pierre surpassed the 500 career points mark at Missouri State. The sophomore center became the 50th player in program history to score 500 or more points. After scoring 238 points as a freshman, Pierre eclipsed that mark in the 18th game of her second campaign. 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 11 different lineups in 21 games this season, and no one starting lineup has recorded more than three starts for the Salukis. Each of the last nine games have featured a new starting lineup, and 10 different players have started at least two games for the Salukis. Dyana Pierre is the only player on the roster to have started all 21 games in 2013-14. Mercedes Griffin has also cemented her spot in the lineup, starting all 10 conference games, and Azia Washington has started 20 of 21 games this year. Pierre, a sophomore, has been a staple in the lineup for her entire career, collecting 47 starts in her 51 games, including the last 46 consecutive games.

    Dyana Pierre has made herself a double-double machine for the Salukis. She is tied for the conference lead in 2013-14 with eight double-doubles in 20 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 21 games this year, Pierre has scored in double-figures 14 times and has recorded double-digit rebounds nine times. Her nine double-figure rebound games lead the conference. 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 52 career games, sophomore center Dyana Pierre has already vaulted into the top 10 in career blocks in SIU history. In each of her first two years at SIU, Pierre has posted top-10 single-season block totals. After posting the fourth-most blocks in a single-season in school history in 2012-13 (36), Pierre already has 34 blocks this year, which is tied for seventh-best in a single season in school history. She now ranks eighth all-time with 70 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 34 blocks in 2013-14 and averages 1.7 per game, which ranks fourth the Valley. She has recorded at least one block in 17 of 21 games in 2013-14 and has more than one block in 10 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 30 in MVC play (3.0 per game), which ranks seventh in the Missouri Valley. Griffin dished a career-best seven dimes to go along with her career-high 16 points the last time SIU played 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 87 points in the last eight games (10.9 points per game) and scored in double figures five times in that span, including a career-best 16 points at Drake.

    Mercedes Griffin has picked up more than one steal in seven of the last nine games. After averaging .8 steals per game in the first 12 games of the season, Griffin has picked up 20 steals in the last nine games (2.2 per game). In 10 conference games, Griffin averages 1.9 steals per contest, which ranks seventh in the Valley. Griffin had five steals against both Evansville and Wichita State.

    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 so far in MVC play:

    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. She scored a career-high seven points in both games of a weekend road trip to Wichita State and Missouri State.
    Jordyn Courier has provided a spark in wins vs. Loyola (9 pts., 3 rebs., 2 asts.) and Evansville (9 pts., 4 rebs., 3 asts., 2 stls.). 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 season.
    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 a career-high 10 points at Missouri State.
    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 leads the team in scoring in MVC play at 12.8 points per game and ranks second on the team in rebounding at 7.0 rebounds per contest.

    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.

    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.

    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.