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    December 14, 2000

    Southern Illinois (2-5) vs. Saint Louis University (5-2)
    Saturday, Dec. 16 / 7 p.m. / Bauman-Eberhardt Athletic Center (2,200) / St. Louis, Mo.

    NEARING THE END . . . Southern Illinois University Carbondale heads to St. Louis, Mo., Saturday, Dec. 16, to take on Saint Louis University at 7 p.m. Saturday's game marks the Salukis' last non-conference road game of the season as SIU stands at 2-5 on the year in non-league play.

    THE SERIES . . . Southern Illinois and Saint Louis have enjoyed a 30-year long rivalry. Saturday will mark the 12th time the teams have gone head-to-head, with the first dating back to 1970. Over the span, SIU has notched eight wins compared to SLU's three. After taking an 11-year break from one another, both teams rekindled the series in 1998. Last year's contest, however, was the most recent as Saint Louis knocked off SIU by a score of 52-44 at SIU Arena. The loss marked the second consecutive the Salukis surrendered to the Billikens in the series as SLU looks to garner its third straight this season.

    SALUKI FLASHBACK . . . Saint Louis University edged the Salukis 52-44 in last year's contest at SIU Arena. At the time, the win marked the fifth in a row for the Billikens as they improved to a perfect 5-0. Deadlocked at 21-21, SIU bottomed out in the second half shooting only 32 percent from the field. Struggling most specifically in the post, the Salukis missed eight layups in the second stanza alone. Both teams traded off points until the 12:09 mark in the second half, when SLU dug in and took advantage of SIU's poor shooting to run off as much as a seven-point lead.A jumper by former Saluki Janina Lopez brought the score to 46-41, but SIU got into foul trouble racking up three consecutive fouls that enabled the Billikens to extend their lead to 10. Senior Mandy Lueking scored a game-high 16 points while Kara Wile dished out six assists to pace the Billikens. Melaniece Bardley (11) and Terica Hathaway (10) each registered double figures to lead the Salukis.

    REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD . . . Former Saint Louis University standout and current SIU graduate assistant coach Kara Wile returns to her alma mater Saturday when the Salukis and Billikens duke it out. Wile, who is in her first year at SIU, had a stellar four-year tenure at SLU prior to joining the Saluki staff. As a player, Wile became the first Billiken to ever record 100 assists in four straight years. She also holds both the SLU single-season (183) and career (520) records in assists. In addition, she was named to the Coca-Cola Billiken Classic All-Tournament Team as a senior, and set both a school and Conference USA record with 17 assists last season against Murray State. Wile, who graduated in May with a degree in elementary education, is currently pursuing her master?s in sports management.

    THE COACHES . . . Southern Illinois University head coach Lori Opp (Western Illinois '88) is in 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. Jill Pizzotti (Southeast Missouri '89) has compiled a 56-82 record in five seasons as head coach of the Billikens. Taking a program over that hadn't won as many games in the previous nine seasons combined, Pizzotti already ranks as the second winningest coach in school history. One of the many highlights of Pizzotti's term at SLU was in 1996-97 when she guided the Billikens to both their first conference road win at UAB and Conference-USA first-round tournament win over Southern Mississippi. Prior to those victories, Saint Louis had never won a Conference-USA road game and had never advanced past the first round of a conference tournament.

    ABOUT THE SALUKIS . . . SIU has lost its last five of six games and enters Saturday's matchup with an overall record of 2-5. Scoring an identical 57 points in their last two games, the Salukis are coming off back-to-back losses to both DePaul (74-57) and Big 12 Conference foe Missouri (81-57). Sophomore Molly McDowell leads the Salukis in scoring this season averaging 12.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while Terica Hathaway lists second with an average of 12.3 points and 5.4 boards per contest. Additionally, McDowell also leads the team in steals (18) and is second in assists (20) while Hathaway ranks second in blocks (5), is third in assists (14), and ties for second in steals (11).

    SCOUTING THE BILLIKENS . . . After beginning the 2000-01 campaign off to a 5-0 start, Saint Louis University has also suffered back-to-back losses falling to Missouri (73-63) and Minnesota (77-71). Sophomore Melissa Oliver paces the Billikens averaging 12.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game this season as SLU appears to match well with the Salukis' attack. Also joining Oliver ahead of the Billiken charge is sophomore Christan Shelton who averages 12.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.

    NON-CONFERENCE NIGHTMARE . . . With two games remaining in non-conference action, Southern Illinois has every reason to be happy when its visit with non-league opponents comes to an end. In their rough non-conference run this season, SIU has faced a pair of teams in Tennessee Tech and SMU who each reached the NCAA's a year ago as well as Big 12 powerhouse Missouri. Although the first seven games have been a huge test for the Dawgs thus far, SIU has managed to hang tight with its opponents in the scoring column trailing its foes 492-474. Despite the fact no more than seven points has separated the Salukis and their opponents in three games this season, that hasn't been the case as of late, as SIU has been pummeled by 17 or more points in its last two contests.

    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 . . . Despite being out-rebounded 100-79 in its last two games, Southern Illinois still holds a 298-282 advantage over their opponents. Averaging 42.6 rebounds per game, SIU has been most effective on the boards in the second half, where the Dawgs have gathered 152 of their 298 rebounds. The solid rebounding of the Salukis has garnered them the top spot in the Missouri Valley Conference in rebounding offense (42.6) for the fourth consecutive week.

    NIFTY FIFTY . . . In last Saturday's game against Missouri, the Salukis pulled down a season high 50 rebounds as a team. Senior Kristine Abramowski and sophomore Molly McDowell accounted for 20 of the 50 boards as each grabbed 10 apiece. The 50 rebounds also marked the fifth time this season the Dawgs have combined for 44 or more boards.

    FA-TEAGUED NO MORE . . . Junior point guard Holly Teague knocked down a pair of three-pointers at Missouri Saturday, to break an 0-of-8 drought from behind the arc. Teague, who scored the Salukis' first seven points of the game against the Tigers, connected on 4-of-15 from the field for a 10-point effort. She also pulled down two rebounds, dished out four assists, and added one steal.

    TALE OF TWO HALVES . . . Southern Illinois has been an entirely different team in the second half this season as opposed to the first. In seven games, the Salukis have been outscored by their opponents 245-216 in the first half, but have made a dramatic turnaround in the second stanza to stay on top of their opponents 258-247.

    PLEADING THE FIFTH . . . Sophomore Molly McDowell posted her fifth double-digit scoring performance of the season in last week's game at Missouri. Shooting 5-of-11 from the field and 6-of 9 from the free throw line, McDowell netted 17 points while grabbing four rebounds and dishing out three assists. In addition, she had two blocks and three steals.

    HATHAWAY SILENCED . . . Senior Terica Hathaway lost her reign as the team's leading scorer this season when she was held to a mere one point last week in Columia, Mo. Hathaway shot a disappointing 0-of-11 from the field as her one-point effort marked the first time this season she failed to score in double figures. Hathaway now lists as SIU's second leading scorer averaging 12.3 points per game.

    CLOSING IN ON 1,000 . . . Although a performance senior Terica Hathaway would like to forget, the one point was positive in a sense that it moved her to within 34 points of reaching the 1,000-point mark in her career. Hathaway's 89 points this season adds to a total of 966 in her career.

    TURNOVERS COSTLY . . . SIU is averaging 19.7 turnovers per game this season turning the ball over 138 times to its opponents 125. The Salukis, however, have been hurting themselves more in the first half where they turned the ball over on 23 occasions in the last two games. Against Missouri, SIU's 12 first half turnovers were converted into 11 Tiger points which ignited an early 14-2 run. Three players in Holly Teague (26), Molly McDowell (22), and Kristine Abramowski (20) have combined for almost half of the team's miscues this season.

    SHOOTING WOES . . . In the previous two games, it appeared as though SIU lost both contests in the first half where the Salukis are being outscored by their opponents 245-216 on the season. Part of the evidence to support that claim is coming from the field where the Dawgs have been ice cold connecting on just 17-of-56 shots in the opening half for a gloomy .303 percentage.

    SUSPENDED . . . Although sophomore guard Lynn Morancie was originally suspended until Monday, Dec. 11, her return with the Salukis has not yet been determined at this point. SIU head coach Lori Opp would not elaborate on the details of the suspension, but did say that it came about due to disciplinary reasons.

    INJURY REPORT . . . Sophomore Katie Berwanger did not have to undergo reconstructive knee surgery, but did get laser surgery instead. Following the surgery, it was stated that there is a 20% tear in Berwanger's ACL, MCL and lateral meniscus. At this point, the outlook on Berwanger is that she is to do rehab and it is most likely that she will not return for the rest of the season. Freshman Jennifer Wegley, who suffered a concussion, will miss this week's game against Saint Louis. Due to the extent of Wegley's injury, it has been determined that she will most likely be sidelined until early or mid-January. Senior Maria Niebrugge still remains in rehab after undergoing knee surgery prior to the season. Although the rehab is going well for Niebrugge, it appears as though she may not return for the rest of the season.

    POKEMON PANDAMONIUM . . . It's a Pokemon Christmas at SIU Arena Tuesday, Dec. 19, when the Dawgs play host to Tennessee-Martin at 7:05 p.m. During the game, Saluki Athletics and Castle Perilous will give away four Pokemon Christmas packages each valued at $100. Admission is only $3.00 for high school and under.