SIU Women’s Basketball | Salukis fall to Missouri State

LES WINKELER For the south

CARBONDALE — Southern Illinois University women’s basketball coach Kelly Bond-White got the somber defense she was looking for Wednesday night but not the result she wanted. The Salukis kept Missouri State at 43% shooting, which was good enough for the Bears to earn a 70-68 win at the Banterra Center.

It was the fourth defeat in a row for the Salukis, but by far the best defensive performance in this period. In the previous three losses, SIU had collected 101, 87 and 94 points. In addition, the Salukis amassed 13 steals, six from Jaidynn Mason, and nine blocked shots, six from Promise Taylor.

And it was a marked improvement over the SIU’s previous meeting with the bears. The Salukis fell 78-57 at Springfield on January 11. SIU also avoided a second-half collapse. They led Missouri State at halftime in the first game.

The Salukis came into this game after surviving ‘Breakfast Club’ earlier this week, early morning drills focused on team defense.

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“I was proud of our children’s performance tonight,” said Bond-White. “They fought. They fought. Especially in the first half I found our defense solid, extremely solid. I was proud of our determination. We tried to keep it simple.

“The Breakfast Club caught their attention. We’ll be back at the Breakfast Club in the morning. I liked the defensive effort, but I will continue to get their attention.”

The Bears led most of the game, but never by more than eight points.

The Salukis went into the fourth quarter 45-41 down but were unable to extend that lead until Aja Holmes sank a 3-pointer with 10.9 seconds left. Missouri’s Sydney Wilson essentially closed the game with two free throws with 5.2 remaining.

While the SIU defense was undeniably better, the Salukis fell just short of their 71 point-per-game average. The Salukis only shot 39.7%.

However, the offense was not without moments.

“We got every shot we wanted,” Bond-White said. “There was only a lid on the bucket. They didn’t go down in the first half. I told our kids at half-time, we still want to run, but we want to be efficient. I thought the game came down to unforced errors, some of our transition choices and our graduation.

“I think tonight we could have won that night if we had just been a little more disciplined offensively and understood that if their bigs got out of the game we had to get Promise the ball. We have a big one and we don’t use it enough.”

In the second quarter, the Salukis had a six-point lead. SIU opened the scoring in the second quarter when Ashley Jones scored on a quick break generated by an athletic steal and pass from Mason.

After a turnover at Missouri State, the Bears had 21, Taylor scoring with a skillful inside pull. After a defensive stop, Mason scored a ride-on to increase the SIU lead to 19-13.

Missouri State regained the lead four minutes later and SIU never led again.

The Salukis started against Missouri State with a different lineup, with both Tamara Nard, a 6ft 2 forward, and 6-5 Taylor. Missouri State received 17 offensive rebounds, resulting in 14 second-chance points.

Mason also got the nod over Quierra Love at the point guard spot. Bond-White said the changes were due in part to Missouri State’s rebounding abilities, overtaking SIU 44-32 and efforts shown at the Breakfast Club.

Despite these shortcomings, this was a game where Bond-White saw progress.

“Happy is definitely not the right word for it,” she said. “I talk to you guys all the time about expectations. I want our kids to appreciate that we’re getting better, but my expectations won’t change because I know what we’re capable of and I’ll keep pushing and pulling out of them.”

Jones led the Salukis with 23 points while Shemera Williams scored 14. Williams was 9-of-10 from the free throw line.

Guard Aniya Thomas led Missouri State with 21 points. Jade Masogayo scored 16 and hit 7 of 10 shots.

The Salukis return on Saturday and host Valparaiso at 2:00 p.m

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