SIU Goes After Second Consecutive Win On Wednesday vs. DePaul

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    December 5, 2000

    SALUKIS SEEK SECOND STRAIGHT WIN . . . Southern Illinois University Carbondale's women's basketball team returns home after a three-day roadtrip in Dallas, Texas. During their stay in the Lonestar State, the Salukis came away with a split at the SMU Hoops for Cure Women's Basketball Classic where they fell to host SMU 86-80, and defeated Arkansas Pine Bluff 75-51. After snapping a three-game losing streak, SIU will seek its second consecutive win Wednesday against DePaul.

    THE SERIES . . . SIU and DePaul will meet for the seventh time as the series currently stands deadlocked at 3-3. The Blue Demons evened the series last season when they defeated the Salukis 60-52 in Chicago, Ill. Prior to that meeting, both teams hadn't met since 1983. DePaul, however, has won the last two games in the series which dates back to 1978.

    SMU HOOPS FOR CURE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL CLASSIC RECAP . . . SIU Falls short against Mustangs . . . With SMU leading 57-52 at the 12:34 mark in the second half, Holly Teague rained in two three-pointers which gave the Salukis an 8-4 boost to pull within one (61-60) with 9:34 left to play. One minute and seven seconds later, Molly McDowell then hit a three-pointer which gave the Salukis their first lead of the game (65-64) with 8:27 to go. The Mustangs then went up seven, 84-77, with 39 seconds before McDowell connected on another three-pointer to cut the deficit to 84-80. Two free throws by an iced Jackee Brown for SMU then secured the Mustangs 86-80 win. McDowell led all Saluki scorers with 16 points while Teague had 13 and both Terica Hathaway and Jodi Heiden each chipped in 11.The Salukis shot 44 percent from the field and a season-high 58 percent (7-of-12) from three-point land.

    Salukis Snap Three-Game Losing Streak against Arkansas Pine Bluff . . . Sophomore Molly McDowell scored a career-high 19 points to lead Southern Illinois University to a 75-51 victory over Arkansas Pine Bluff in the consolation game of the SMU Classic. McDowell shot 4-of-9 from the field and 10-of-12 from the free throw line for the game as her 19 points surpassed her previous mark of 16 which was done three times, last vs. SMU (12/01/00). SIU put together a 23-5 run spanning over 7:10 in the first half in which the Salukis scored 10 of their 23 points from the free throw line. Leading a comfortable 42-25 at the half, the SIU bench then stepped in and outscored the Lionettes by a count of 29-8. The solid bench play, which combined for 19 second half points, enabled the Dawgs to build their biggest lead at 75-49 (:17) before coasting to the 75-51 win. Terica Hathaway and Danielle Lawary also registered double digits as each chipped in 12.

    THE COACHES . . . Southern Illinois University head coach Lori Opp (Western Illinois '88) enters her first season at the helm of the Saluki women's basketball program. Opp (Havana Ill.), who was named head coach in August, spent the last two seasons as the Salukis' assistant coach/recruiting coordinator. Prior to SIU, Opp served as a graduate assistant coach at Western Illinois (1988-90) and an assistant coach at Eastern Illinois (1990-93), Indiana State (1994-95), and Murray State (1995-98). With over 11 years of Division I coaching experience, Opp brings an unlimited amount of knowledge and enthusiasm to this year's squad as she is now the sixth head coach in the program's 41-year history.

    DePaul University's Doug Bruno (DePaul '73) enters his 15th season as head coach of the Blue Demons. Since returning to coach at his alma mater in 1988, DePaul has won 217 games, been to seven NCAA Tournaments, made two WNIT appearances and won four conference tournament championships to go along with three regular season titles. In the last 12 years, Bruno has guided his teams to seven 20-win seasons and 9-of-12 postseason appearances which currently stand as the most of any program in Conference-USA.

    ABOUT THE SALUKIS . . . SIU returns home from the SMU Hoops for Cure Women's Basketball Classic in Dallas, Texas, where the Salukis split a pair of games losing to SMU 86-80 and defeating Arkansas Pine Bluff 75-51. Sophomore Molly McDowell has been coming on strong as of late as she ranks as the Salukis' second leading scorer this season averaging 13.8 points per game. During SIU's two-day stay in the Lonestar State, McDowell scored 35 points on 9-of-18 from the field and 12-of-14 from the free throw line.

    SCOUTING THE BLUE DEMONS . . . DePaul University is off to a 1-3 start after facing some of the nation's premiere competition in Tennessee, Georgetown, and Iowa State. Coping with back-to-back losses to Georgetown (73-70 OT) and Iowa State (81-65), the Blue Demons come to SIU Arena looking to halt their two-game losing skid. Four players man the DePaul attack as each sport double figures in scoring this season. Juniors Lenae Williams and Yolanda Lewis along with seniors Briana Fitzgerald and Candis Blankson spearhead this year's charge. Williams, the team's leading scorer, is averaging 18.8 points and three rebounds per game while Lewis, who has played in just one game this season, is averaging 15.0 points. Fitzgerald, on the other hand, is shooting 59 percent from the field averaging 10.8 points while Blankson rounds out the talented foursome with a 10.5 ppg average.


    • Lenae Williams has not missed a free throw since the first half of DePaul's game with South Florida in last year's Conference USA Tournament. She has made 25 straight free throws including a perfect 16-of-16 this season.
    • Briana Fitzgerald is averaging 16 points and 6.5 rebounds in the last two games.
    • Sylvia Blakeslee has started 61 straight games.
    • Lenae Williams needs just 17 three-pointers for the all-time DePaul record.

    SALUKIS TABBED EIGHTH IN THE VALLEY'S PRESEASON POLL . . . Southern Illinois was voted eighth in this year's Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll which is exactly where the Salukis finished last season after its 5-13 performance in league play. SIU received 102 votes to just beat Illinois State (101) for the eighth spot. Southwest Missouri State was picked the league favorite for the second time in the past three years and fourth in the last six to win the conference. Drake, who won the MVC title outright a year ago, was then picked second while Evansville was chosen third rounding out the top three in this year's poll.

    ON THE REBOUND . . . In five games, Southern Illinois has been potent on the glass as the Salukis currently hold a 219-182 advantage over their opponents. Averaging 43.8 rebounds per game, Southern Illinois has been most effective on the boards in the second half, where the Dawgs have gathered 109 of their 219 rebounds. SIU currently leads the Missouri Valley Conference in rebounding offense (43.8), and is second in rebounding margin (+7.7).

    McDOWELL POSTS CAREER HIGH EN ROUTE TO ALL-TOURNAMENT HONORS . . . Sophomore guard Molly McDowell scored a career-high 19 points to lead the Salukis to a 75-71 consolation victory over Arkansas Pine Bluff. McDowell's 19 points surpassed her previous mark of 16 which was done three times, last vs. SMU, Dec. 1. In SIU's last two games, McDowell shot 9-of-18 from the field while knocking down 5-of-9 three-pointers and 12-of-14 from the free throw line to collect 35 points. She also pulled down 12 rebounds, dished out five assists, gathered three blocks, and had five steals. As a result of her efforts, McDowell was named to the SMU Hoops for Cure Women's Basketball Classic All-Tournament Team.

    TALE OF TWO HALVES . . . Southern Illinois has been an entirely different team in the second half this season as opposed to the first. In five games, the Salukis have been outscored by their opponents 172-171 in the first half, but have made a dramatic turnaround in the second stanza to stay on top of their opponents 189-165.

    DRAININ' THE THREE . . . Along with its 41 percent (123-of-294) display from the field this season, SIU is 16-of-39 (.410) from behind the three-point arc. The Salukis have come on strong in that department as of late knocking down 13-of-27 treys for 48 percent. Molly McDowell currently ranks as the team's leading three-point threat this season connecting on 8-of-13 while Holly Teague is second shooting 5-of-18. In addition, SIU's 41 percent from three-point land currently lists first in the Missouri Valley Conference with Creighton in second (.406) and Southwest Missouri in third (.364).

    HOW MAY I ASSIST YOU? . . . Southern Illinois currently ranks third in assists in the Missouri Valley Conference for the second consecutive week. Averaging 15.20 per game, the Salukis have compiled 76 on the season and stand behind league-leading Evansville (18.00) and second place Southwest Missouri (15.67).

    CLOSING IN ON 1,000 . . . After scoring a two-day total of 23 points, senior Terica Hathaway moved to within 50 points of reaching the 1,000-point mark in her career. Hathaway shot 10-of-26 from the field and 2-of-6 from the free throw line, while grabbing 13 rebounds. In addition, she dished out four assists, had two blocks, and one steal. Hathaway has scored in double figures in each of the Salukis' five games this season.

    SALUKI BENCH PLAYING STRONG . . . The Saluki bench came up big against Arkansas Pine Bluff this past weekend outscoring the Lionettes by a count of 29-8. In that game, the SIU reserves combined for 19 second half points which enabled the Dawgs to build a 26-point lead (75-49) before coasting to their 75-51 win. Freshman Jodi Heiden led all scorers off the pine with seven points while Angela Tolbert chipped in five and Lynn Morancie added four.

    INJURY REPORT . . . Sophomore Katie Berwanger, who tore both her ACL and MCL at the beginning of the season, will undergo knee surgery Weds., Dec. 6. As of now, it appears Berwanger will miss the rest of the season. Freshman Jennifer Wegley, who was diagnosed with a concussion, is expected to be back practicing Thursday and will be eligible for Saturday's game in Columbia, Mo. Senior Courtney Smith is back practicing after suffering a stress fracture in her left tibia. Smith has missed the last four games for the Salukis this season.