Salukis open MVC Tournament Thursday against Evansville

    Sophomore guard Cartaesha Macklin

    Sophomore guard Cartaesha Macklin
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    March 13, 2013

    By Bill Ford

    CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The 10th-seeded Southern Illinois women's basketball team faces No. 7 Evansville Thursday in the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference Women's Basketball Tournament.

    Date: Thursday, March 14
    Time: 7:05 p.m. CST
    Location: St. Charles, Mo.
    Site: The Family Arena (12,000)

    Video Stream: Valley Live TV (free)
    Radio: WVZA 105.1 FM
    Play-by-play by Bryce Williams
    Color commentary by Johnny Sole

    Saluki All Access (live audio)

    Tournament Central

    Game Notes

    Saluki Women's Basketball Twitter

    No. 10 Southern Illinois Salukis (4-25, 1-17 MVC)
    Interim Coach:
    Adrianne Harlow, First Year (0-13 overall, 0-13 at SIU)
    No. 7 Evansville Purple Aces (9-20, 7-11 MVC)
    Head Coach:
    Oties Epps, Second Year (14-45 overall and at Evansville)

    2013 marks Southern Illinois' 22nd appearance in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. SIU is 15-19 all-time in the tournament with tournament titles in 1987 and 1990. Southern has struggled in the tournament in recent years, however, winning just one tournament game since 1998. SIU has appeared in Thursday's opening round the past five seasons, posting their last tournament win in 2008 over Bradley.

    No. 10 SIU VS. No. 7 EVANSVILLE
    SIU suffered a regular season sweep at the hands of Evansville, its first-round opponent in the MVC Tournament. The Salukis fell 71-65 on January 13 in Evansville, Ind., and 52-41 on February 9 in Carbondale. SIU trails its all-time series with the Purple Aces 24-22, and the Salukis are 0-1 all-time against Evansville in the MVC Tournament. The Purple Aces knocked SIU out of the opening round of the 2009 MVC Tournament before going on to win the tournament as the No. 9 seed.

    No. 10 SIU VS. No. 2 CREIGHTON
    Should the Salukis advance past Evansville, they will take on a Creighton squad that also swept them in the regular season. The Bluejays bested Southern 80-61 on January 3 in the MVC opener for both teams in Carbondale and 61-42 last Saturday in the regular season finale. Creighton leads the all-time series between the two teams 34-15 and the two teams are 1-1 all-time in the MVC Tournament.

    Sophomore guard Cartaesha Macklin leads SIU and ranks second in the MVC with an average of 14.9 points per game in addition to averaging an MVC-leading 4.3 assists per game. Freshman guard Rishonda Napier is second on the team at 10.9 points per game, which ranks third among Valley freshmen. Freshman center Dyana Pierre leads the MVC in rebounding with a team-leading 8.8 per game, and ranks second in the Valley with an average of 1.1 blocks per game.

    MACKLIN AT 900
    Sophomore guard Cartaesha Macklin surpassed 900 career points last Thursday with her 21-point effort against Drake. She ended the regular season with 926 points for her career, which ranks 23rd in SIU history. Macklin's 431 points this season make her the first Saluki with consecutive 400-point seasons since Carlai Moore (2005-06 and 2006-07). She needs to score 26 points in the MVC tournament to enter the SIU single-season top 10 scoring list for the second consecutive season. Her 495 points as a freshman last season ranks sixth in SIU history.

    Redshirt-Freshman center Dyana Pierre finished the 2012-13 regular season as the MVC's rebounding leader with 254 rebounds for an average of 8.8 per game. Depending on how the MVC tournament shakes out, she could potentially be the first freshman to lead the conference in rebounding average since Wichita State's Angela Bucker in 2000-01. Pierre needs just two rebounds to enter the SIU single-season top 10 rebounding list.

    Cartaesha Macklin raised her game significantly in the second half of MVC play to close the season. She went from averaging 13.7 points, 2.8 assists and 2.2 rebounds per game in SIU's first nine MVC games to averaging 17.4 points, 5.3 assists and 3.6 rebounds in the last nine conference games. Macklin's last half helped her rise to first in the MVC in assists (4.3/game) and second in scoring (14.9/game) to close the regular season, earning Honorable Mention All-MVC honors for the second straight season.

    Adrianne Harlow took over as SIU's interim head coach after Missy Tiber announced her resignation on January 21. SIU enters the MVC Tournament looking to get Harlow her first win as the team's head coach. Harlow previously served 10 seasons as Tiber's top assistant at SIU, Tusculum College and Belmont Abbey College. Tiber ended her tenure at Southern with a 19-86 record (.181) with a 9-50 mark in MVC play (.153) over three and-a-half seasons.

    SIU ended the 2012-13 season on a 16-game losing streak, which ranks fifth in Missouri Valley Conference history for both consecutive losses and consecutive conference losses. The Salukis will look to put the losing streak to an end Thursday against Evansville in the opening round of the MVC Tournament.

    Dyana Pierre moved onto the SIU single-season top 10 blocks list with her 33 blocks during the regular season. She currently sits in a tie with Bonnie Foley (1978-79) for 9th in SIU history. Pierre blocked a career-best five shots November 17 against Loyola-Chicago, 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.

    Cartaesha Macklin finished the 2012-13 regular season as the MVC's leader in assists with an average of 4.3 per game. Depending on the MVC Tournament, Macklin could be the first Saluki ever to lead the MVC in assists average. The Mayo, Fla., native averaged 4.8 assists per game in league play and became the first player in SIU history with two points-assists double-doubles in one season. She had 19 points and 10 assists December 29 at Chicago State and 18 points and 10 assists March 1 against Bradley. Macklin is one of three SIU players (Connie Erickson, 1979-80 and D.D. Plab, 1980-81) with two double-digit assists games in the same season.

    Freshman guard Rishonda Napier moved into a tie for eighth on SIU's top 10 freshman scoring list with 306 points in the regular season. She is tied with Connie Erickson (1979-80). Teammate Cartaesha Macklin holds SIU's freshman scoring record of 495 points, which she reached last season.

    Two major categories that have haunted SIU in losses are rebounding and free throws. The Salukis are 1-21 this season when they get out-rebounded, but are 3-4 when they are either equal or better than their opponent on the glass. The Salukis rank last in the MVC in rebounding margin at minus 6.1 per game, and have allowed opponents an average of 14.4 offensive rebounds per game. SIU has also struggled to help itself at the free throw line with a 63.7 percentage for the season that ranks ninth in the MVC. SIU has shot below 60 percent from the line six times in its last 11 games.