SIU women’s basketball survives late Indiana State comeback to extend winning streak
With one game left in the regular season, Saluki women’s basketball appears to be hitting its stride.
SIU had to withstand a hard-fought comeback — nearly surrendering a 22-point fourth quarter lead — but it will leave Indiana State with its third-straight win by a score of 70-66.
The Saluki win coupled with Wichita State’s loss (14-13, 9-7 MVC) ties the two for fourth place in the Missouri Valley Conference with the conference tournament looming next week. SIU (15-13, 9-8 MVC) would win a tiebreak with the Shockers by virtue of sweeping their season series.
Southern, specifically junior guard Kylie Giebelhausen, came out of the gate on a tear. She hit two 3-pointers before Indiana State (12-16, 6-11 MVC) could put a point on the board.
Indiana State was held to just 36 percent shooting in the first quarter. Meanwhile, SIU shot 62 percent to open up a 23-12 lead.
The second quarter saw both offenses come to a screeching halt. But, luckily for the Salukis, Indiana State’s screeched just a bit harder.
Only 14 points were scored in the entire quarter. Southern scored nine of them to take a 32-17 lead into half time.
Giebelhausen scored 16 of her career-high tying 26 points in the first half, finishing the first two quarters with four 3-pointers.
SIU would hold the momentum after halftime for about another six minutes. Senior forward Kim Nebo scored eight of her nine total points in that time to help extend SIU’s lead to 25.
Then, the turnover bug hit the Salukis. They turned the ball over on six of their last eight possessions but the Sycamores could only cut the lead to 17.
Things didn’t get much better for SIU through the fourth. However, things got much better for Indiana State.
Southern only hit three field goals throughout the final quarter, which allowed ISU to go on a 19-3 run and cut the lead to six.
Time began to run thin for the Sycamores to complete the comeback as they were forced to foul the Salukis in an attempt to extend the game.
A pair of made free throws each from senior guard Rishonda Napier and freshman guard Brittney Patrick pushed the Saluki lead to six before the Trees’ final push.
Sophomore guard Tierra Webb and sophomore forward Regan Wentland each hit a 3-pointer to cut SIU’s lead to four points, the smallest it had been since the opening minutes.
Napier then hit two more free throws to ice the game for SIU. She was the only Saluki, besides Giebelhausen, to reach double-figures with 15 points.
SIU will close out its regular season at 1 p.m. Saturday at MVC cellar-dweller Loyola (2-25, 1-15 MVC).
The Salukis are locked into the 4-5 matchup for the conference tournament to face Wichita State regardless of Saturday’s outcome. A win or a Shocker loss Saturday will secure the No. 4 seed. A loss and Shocker win will put SIU as the No. 5 seed to face Wichita.