Women's Basketball Tips off 2003-04 Season Friday at Southeast Missouri State

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    Nov. 19, 2003

    By Jeff Honza

    Game Facts
    Date: Friday, Nov. 21
    Tip Off : 6 p.m.
    Arena: Show Me Center
    Capacity: 7,000
    Location: Cape Girardeau, Mo.
    Radio: 103.9 WXAN FM
    Internet: www.siusalukis.com
    Rankings: Neither team is ranked
    Series History: SIU leads, 23-3

    Series History
    SIU holds a 23-3 record in its overall series versus Southeast Missouri State. Twenty-five of the 26 matchups were played in a 20-year span (1962-82). Since 1982, the Dawgs and Otahkians have only met one time. In 2002, SEMO posted a 81-70 win over SIU in Cape Girardeau to snap an 11-game losing streak against the Salukis.

    Lately, it Hasn't Been Close
    In recent years, there haven't been a lot of close games between SIU and SEMO. In fact, the last 12 meetings have been decided by 10 or more points. Prior to that stretch, the closest game both teams played was in 1971, where the Otahkians defeated the Salukis, 40-38, in Carbondale.

    SIU vs. the Ohio Valley Conference
    SIU has faced seven of the 11 teams in the Ohio Valley Conference throughout its women's basketball history. Holding an all-time 107-27 record against OVC schools, the Salukis are 36-6 against Eastern Illinois, 2-0 against Eastern Kentucky, 30-4 against Murray State, 23-3 against SEMO, 7-5 against Tennessee-Martin, 2-0 against Tennessee State and 7-9 against Tennessee Tech. SEMO is the first of two OVC foes SIU will face this season. The Salukis will also play Tennessee Tech on Dec. 3. In addition, Austin Peay, Jacksonville State, Morehead State and Samford stand as the only four OVC opponents SIU has never played.

    The Last Time . . .
    SIU played an opponent from the Ohio Valley Conference was on Dec. 7, 2002, when the Salukis defeated Eastern Illinois, 82-67. EIU was one of three OVC foes the Dawgs played during the 2002-03 season and they went a perfect 3-0 in those contests.

    Head Coach Lori Opp
    Lori Opp (Western Illinois, '88) enters her fourth year at the helm of the Southern Illinois University women's basketball program.Opp made her debut as head coach in 2000-01. Since then, she has compiled an overall record of 20-61, 9-45 MVC in three years. With over 13 years of Division I coaching experience, Opp enters this season with the hopes of guiding the Dawgs to not only their first MVC Tournament appearance since 1999-00, but their first winning season since 1995-96 (18-10).

    Head Coach B.J. Smith
    B.J. Smith (Southwestern College, '89) is 19-12 in his second year as head coach of Southeast Missouri State. In his inaugural season as a Division I coach in 2002-03, Smith directed SEMO to its most successful season since joining the ranks of Division I competition 12 years ago. The Otahkians recorded a 19-11 record and posted their highest Ohio Valley Conference finish to date. Finishing second in the OVC with a 11-5 mark, SEMO also made its first-ever OVC Tournament championship appearance.

    About the Otahkians
    Preseason Ohio Valley Conference favorite Southeast Missouri State enters Friday's matchup at 0-1 after losing to the No. 19 Utah Utes in the first round of the Preseason Women's National Invitational Tournament on Nov. 14. SEMO led Utah at the half, 37-36, but fell behind in the last seven minutes of the game to lose by a score of 76-65. Junior guard Kenja White, who was named first-team preseason all-OVC, finished as the Otahkians' second-leading scorer with 11 points. Junior forward Carina Souza followed close behind with eight points. Souza also earned preseason all-OVC honors, as she was named to the second-team.

    Plenty of Work Ahead
    SIU opens its 2003-04 season with a tough non-conference schedule. This year's nine-game, non-league card features teams from the Conference USA, as well as the Ohio Valley, Sun Belt, Northeast and Big Ten Conferences. After opening up at OVC Preseason favorite SEMO Friday, the Salukis will visit Middle Tennessee State on Monday, Nov. 24. MTSU, who went 18-12 last season, received one vote in this year's first USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Division I Top 25 Coaches' Poll. From there, SIU heads to the Long Island Classic (11/28-29) to face Long Island, and Arkansas State or Alabama-Birmingham. Following their trip to the east coast, the Salukis travel to Tennessee Tech (12/3) and DePaul (12/14), before returning home to face Southern Mississippi (12/16) and Northwestern (12/29). The Blue Demons, a NCAA Tournament team a year ago, also received votes in the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Division I Top 25 Coaches' Poll. SIU then closes out its non-conference slate at Saint Louis on Dec. 29.

    Road Warriors
    For the third time in Lori Opp's four years as head coach, the Southern Illinois University women's basketball team opens its season on the road. SIU starts the 2003-04 campaign with six straight road games and will play seven of nine non-league contests away from home. The only time SIU opened a season at home under Opp was in 2002-03. That year, the Salukis hosted DePaul on Nov. 23.

    Familiar Territory
    By now, SIU is used to playing on the road. The Salukis even had a similar stretch of away games last year. Starting with Tennessee State (12/4/02), the Dawgs spent the entire month of December on the road and went 3-2 during a span that lasted from Dec. 4-21.

    Opp-eration MVC Tournament
    One of the Salukis' main goals this season is to get back to the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, which is something that hasn't been done under head coach Lori Opp. The last time the Dawgs made a trip to the league's postseason fling was in 1999-00 under then-head coach Julie Beck. Additionally, SIU hasn't posted a winning record since Cindy Scott's Salukis went 18-10 in 1995-96.

    Berwanger Shines in Preseason
    After suffering a knee injury in 2000-01, which caused her to receive a medical redshirt, fifth-year senior Katie Berwanger shed her knee brace for the first time in SIU's 64-62 exhibition win over St. Louis Goldstar (11/9). Berwanger registered a double-double 12 points and 15 rebounds, and had six steals. The native of Lake Zurich, Ill., then turned around five days later to post 11 points and six rebounds on 5-of-10 shooting against NWBL (Nov. 14). One of five seniors returning to this year's squad, Berwanger led the Dawgs with 5.9 rebounds in 27 games last season.

    In the Crutch
    Had it not been an exhibition game, senior center Tiffany Crutcher's 27 points against NWBL would have marked a career high. Crutcher merely dominated the game's opening 20 minutes scoring 16 of the Salukis' first 20 points on a perfect 8-of-8 shooting. The native of Bolingbrook, Ill., would finish a stunning first half with 24 points and 10 rebounds, before ending up with 27 points and 13 rebounds on 12-of-15 from the field and 3-of-5 from the free throw line. Additionally, Crutcher led all Saluki scorers with 14 points against St. Louis Goldstar (11/9).

    Keeping up with Jones
    Although teammate Tiffany Crutcher stole the show in the first half of SIU's exhibition game against NWBL, it was junior Danette Jones who took the spotlight in the second. Jones came off the bench and quickly scored eight points, including two three-pointers in just 1:20. She remained hot from long range to knock down another three-pointer, and before it was all said and done, she would end up with 13 second half points in a span of seven minutes. For the game, Jones scored 16 points in 16 minutes on 6-of-12 from the field, including 4-of-8 from downtown.

    Desamours Scores
    Junior transfer Daphney Desamours scored four points in the last 58 seconds of the game to lift Southern Illinois to a 64-62 come-from-behind exhibition win over St. Louis Goldstar (11/9). Trailing by three (62-59) with 1:18 left to play, Desamours calmly sunk a three-pointer to tie the game at 62-62 with 58 seconds remaining. Stephanie Brown found Desamours wide open at the top of the key, who pump-faked and drained the huge shot.

    Salukis Picked Last in MVC Preseason Poll
    Southern Illinois will look to prove critics wrong, as it was picked to finish last in this year's Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Poll, announced Oct. 28 at the league's annual media day. This year marks the third straight that SIU has been tabbed 10th in the Valley's preseason balloting. The Salukis received just 52 points, while the nine other conference schools had at least 105. League coaches, sports information directors and media voted. 2003 MVC Tournament Champion Southwest Missouri State was picked to win the league this year, while defending regular-season champ Creighton was ranked second. Indiana State, Northern Iowa and Wichita State then rounded out the top five.



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