Salukis conclude non-conference play against Morehead State on Monday

    Sophomore Azia Washington scored a career-high 21 points against UT Martin on Dec. 23.

    Sophomore Azia Washington scored a career-high 21 points against UT Martin on Dec. 23.
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    Dec. 29, 2013

    Southern Illinois (2-8) vs. Morehead State (5-7)
     Date Monday, Dec. 30, 2013
     Time 6:05 p.m. CT
     Location Carbondale, Ill. - SIU Arena (8,339)
     Video Saluki All-Access

    Saluki Sports Network

     Notes Southern Illinois Get Acrobat Reader | Morehead State Get Acrobat Reader
     Season Stats Southern Illinois | Morehead State
     Live Stats Gametracker | Valley Scoreboard
     Social Media @SIU_WBasketball

    By Tyler Wooten

    CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Saluki women's basketball will host the Morehead State Eagles for its final non-conference matchup of 2013-14 on Monday night at the SIU Arena, with tipoff scheduled for 6:05 p.m.

    Southern Illinois Salukis (2-8)
    Head Coach:
    Cindy Stein • First Season • 284-214 overall (17th season) • 2-8 at SIU

    Morehead State Eagles (5-7)
    Head Coach:
    Tom Hodges • Third Season • 45-57 overall (third season) • 45-57 at MSU

    Bryce Williams (second season)
    Color Commentary: Logan Lee (first season)
    Station: WVZA 105.1 FM (audio also available on Saluki All-Access)

    This will be the first matchup between the Salukis and Eagles in 54 years of women's basketball at SIU. Morehead State, situated in Morehead, Ky., has offered women's basketball since 1970-71, and has been a charter member of the Ohio Valley Conference since its inception in 1948. MSU is one of only three schools (Eastern Kentucky and Murray State) that have stuck with the OVC since it began.

    Overall, SIU is 61-34 against teams from the Ohio Valley Conference. The Salukis only hold a losing record against four teams -- Tennessee Tech (10-13), UT Martin (2-3), Austin Peay (1-4) and SEMO (1-5) -- and hold a winning or even record with seven schools: Murray State (35-5), Tennessee State (3-1), Eastern Illinois (3-0), Eastern Kentucky (2-0), Western Kentucky (2-1), Middle Tennessee State (1-1) and SIU Edwardsville (1-1). This season, SIU is 1-3 versus OVC schools with Southern's lone victory coming against Eastern Illinois on Dec. 16 (66-60).

    MOREHEAD ST. 103, BEREA (KY.) 55
    The Eagles unleashed an aerial assault on the Berea College (Ky.) Mountaineers, breaking a school record for three point field goals in their 103-55 victory on Dec. 18 in Morehead, Ky. MSU sank 19 three-pointers on 44 attempts, which also tied an Ohio Valley record and ranks as the fourth-best single-game total in NCAA Division I history. The Eagles had six players in double-figures, but none with more than 17 points. Three players had double-doubles, including Terrice Robinson, who recorded 15 points and 10 of MSU's 30 assists.

    Turnovers plagued the Salukis for the second consecutive game as SIU's season-high 36 turnovers helped a hot-shooting UT Martin squad breeze to an 85-55 victory on Dec. 23 at the SIU Arena. Southern recorded its best shooting clip of the season (48.7 percent), but attempted 18 fewer shots than the Skyhawks, who shot 49.1 (28-of-57) percent from the field -- including an 11-of-24 (45.8 percent) mark from beyond the arc. Southern received career performances from sophomore Azia Washington (21 points, 8-of-12 shooting) and Mercedes Griffin (11 points, 9-of-10 FT), but SIU's inability to hold onto the ball quickly erased their efforts. The Skyhawks scored a remarkable 48 points off of Saluki turnovers.

    Sophomore forward Azia Washington was already having a career season heading into Southern's matchup against UT Martin on Dec. 23, when the Lee's Summit, Mo., native scored a career-high 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting in SIU's 85-55 loss to the Skyhawks. Washington has scored in double digits in four of her last five games, and has shot 50 percent or better in seven of SIU's ten games this season. In her last five games, Washington is 27-of-52 (.519) from the field. On the season, Washington ranks second on the team in field goal percentage (.464), second in rebounding (7.0) and third in scoring (9.2 points per game). In the conference, Washington ranks fifth in defensive rebounds (5.4), seventh in field goal percentage and eighth in rebounding.

    Junior Mercedes Griffin has found herself part of a depleted Saluki upperclassman regiment, and has taken her role in stride. Griffin, a native of Bolingbrook, Ill., has started six of SIU's ten games so far, including a start against UT Martin on Dec. 23 when she scored a career-high 11 points with a career-high 9-of-10 mark from the charity stripe. In fact, Griffin's clip from the free throw line over the last two games is an impressive 83.3 percent (15-of-18). Griffin has been a fixture on the line these last two games, but entering Southern's contest with Chicago State on Dec. 20, she was only 6-of-18 in free throw attempts. The 2013-14 season is turning out to be a career-year for Griffin. She already has more free throws made and attempted this season than in any other at SIU, and she is only seven points away from topping her career season-high total of 61 points.

    Sophomore Dyana Pierre has been the catalyst for Southern all season long, and she has showed no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Pierre has scored a combined 44 points on 17-of-29 (.586) in her last three games, which included a career-high 20-point performance against Eastern Illinois on Dec. 16. In 10 games this season, Pierre has scored fewer than 10 points only twice and has posted double-digit rebound performances in five games -- four of which have contributed to double-doubles. Pierre has earned her right as SIU's leading scorer and shooter as she's made at least six field goals in seven of Southern's 10 games and attempted at least nine shots in nine games.

    Sophomore center Dyana Pierre is already within striking distance of the top-ten all-time at SIU in career blocks. After posting the fourth-most blocks in a single-season in school history in 2012-13 (36), Pierre stands within four blocks of the top-ten with 52 career blocks. Pierre currently has 16 in 2013-14 and averages 1.6 per game, right now the second-most in the MVC. At this pace, Pierre will record the third-most blocks in a single-season for SIU in 2013-14 and climb up to second all-time in career blocks.

    With a healthy percentage of SIU's starting roster from last season unavailable due to injury, the Salukis have had to dig deeper into its roster than previously anticipated. Starting point guard Hannah Shores has eased into Division I basketball with 4.9 points and 2.2 assists in 24.1 minutes per game. Senior Sidney Goins -- who played 27 combined minutes in her first four games this season -- has played at least 17 a game since and has posted 22 points on six three-point field goals in her four starts. Goins posted double-digit scoring figures in consecutive games for the first time in her Saluki career against EIU (12) and Chicago State (10). Most recently, senior Jordyn Courier came off the bench with seven points, three steals and two assists in 18 minutes in SIU's loss to Chicago State on Dec. 20 and she chipped in seven points as a starter versus UT Martin on Dec. 23. Prior to Dec. 20, Courier had played more than nine minutes only once in 2013-14 (IPFW, 13).

    After a 1-4 road swing throughout November and the early part of December, the Salukis returned home in high fashion with a 66-60 victory over an offensively potent Eastern Illinois squad. Southern was impressive in every facet of the victory, head coach Cindy Stein's first at the SIU Arena. The Salukis posted their best totals of the season in shooting percentage (.471), three-point percentage (.333) and three-point field goals (seven) -- all while holding EIU leading scorer Sabina Oroszova seven points under her season average.

    Walk-on sophomore Hannah Shores has made her presence known with the Salukis this season. Shores, a native of nearby Centralia, Ill., has scored 4.9 points and 2.2 assists in 24.1 minutes per game in 10 games played and five starts. Shores earned her first career start at IPFW on Nov. 18, where she played 23 minutes and scored a career-high nine points. On Dec. 16 versus Eastern Illinois, Shores got her first start at point guard and played a career-high 34 minutes, in which she dished out a career-high seven assists and scored six points, all on free throws. Of Southern's 51 attempts from the field, Shores did not take a single shot. Entering the game, Shores was attempting 5.7 shots per game.