The Salukis came out aggressive from the start against Evansville, but a late scoring Evansville run put the lead out of reach as the Purple Aces went on to win 52-41.
SIU (4-17, 1-9 MVC) started its seventh annual Pink Out to fight cancer game by winning the opening tip-off and heaving a pass to junior guard and forward Jordyn Courier to get the first score of the game. The Salukis continued the pressure in the first half when they tallied eight steals, forced 12 Evansville turnovers and held the Aces (8-13, 6-4 MVC) to just 33.3 percent shooting in the first half.
“We just left what has been happening in the past, and we are looking forward to this tournament,” sophomore guard Cartaesha Macklin said. “We are just trying to get better, and it starts with our energy and our attitude and just working hard. Today it didn’t work, but I’m sure if we keep going out and doing the same thing it’s going to come to us eventually.”
The Saluki offense could not take advantage of Evansville’s weak offense as SIU shot just one 3-pointer in the first half and made only 2-15 from beyond the arc.
“We had them rattled,” interim-coach Adrianne Harlow said. “We just didn’t do the knock-out punch. We could have really just blown the game open right then at the very beginning.”
Despite shooting just 34.6 percent in the first half, SIU was tied with Evansville at the half with 19 points. However, the Purple Aces came out of the half strong and slowly built a 10-point lead in the first seven minutes.
Macklin played well after the UE run as she racked up 9 points, three steals and a stellar no-look pass to Courier, who finished a fast-break layup in the final 13 minutes of play. Macklin finished with a team-high 15 points and seven steals.
“To me, that was the Cartaesha that played all last year that we have been hoping would show herself,” Harlow said. “That was just her playing and not thinking about it. She was all over the court, and that is what we have to have from her.”
Evansville had two players with double-doubles in points and rebounds for the game. Sophomore Aces guard Kat Taylor notched 14 points on only five shots and was 9-10 from the free-throw line.
“It hurts to lose especially after working so hard, but being competitors we can’t keep our heads down or drag our feet.” freshman guard Rishonda Napier said. “We just have to keep going and keep working and keep the same effort and compete. We have to show people that we are not the doormat of this league and we are not going to allow people to step all over us.”