After spending the weekend in Iowa and playing back-to-back games, the Salukis left the Hawkeye State without a win.
The women’s team started its trip Wednesday afternoon before preparing themselves for Drake University Friday and the University of Northern Iowa Sunday.
The Salukis rarely perform well in Cedar Falls, Iowa, as the women have not won a game there since 2007.
Despite its history of losses, SIU did not make it easy in the first game against the Bulldogs. The Salukis fought hard against Drake University Friday night before taking a 74-72 loss.
Although Drake lost its two previous games, the Bulldogs defeated the Salukis with a clutch offensive rebound and a put-back with 1.5 seconds left on the clock to get the win.
Senior guard Mercedes Griffin led the Salukis with a career high of 16 points. Each Saluki who played scored a bucket.
SIU competed against Northern Iowa University Sunday afternoon. Before facing the Salukis, the Panthers were 2-1 in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The Salukis played hard but could not execute, falling short to the Panthers 87-53. The loss dropped SIU to 1-3 in the MVC.
SIU struggled offensively in the first half, scoring only 23 points to the Panthers’ 42.
Junior forward Dyana Pierre played less than four minutes in the opening half. The post player picked up her second foul in the first few minutes of play, which led to her watching her teammates play from the bench.
Junior forward Azia Washington stepped up and scored 13 of the Salukis’ first 17 points. Pierre and Griffin were the only other Salukis to get on the stat sheet until senior guard Hannah Shores scored with just under 3:30 left in the half.
With Pierre on the bench, SIU shot 31 percent from the field and was out-rebounded 21-13.
Washington scored 15 points in the first half and ended the game with 19.
“We had problems with knocking down some big shots and all sorts of things,” she said. “It was definitely a tough one.”
Washington went 8-for-17 from the field 3-4 from the free-throw line. The leading Saluki said her shot selection was not bad, but some shots just were not going in the basket.
“I’m not really upset with the shots that I chose,” she said. “Sometimes I have trouble finishing but the shots that I put up were pretty selective and smart, sometimes I made them and some times I didn’t.”
By the end of the half, the Panthers shooting percentage went up to 50 percent after only shooting 33 percent at the beginning of the game.
The Salukis ended the first half shooting 31 percent from the field and were 3-of-4 from the free-throw line going into halftime.
At the beginning of the second half, the Salukis collected four quick points scored by Washington and senior guard Sidney Goins.
Despite Griffin’s career night Friday, she wasn’t able to find the basket Sunday. Griffin and Pierre both finished with four points.
“I don’t think we showed up as a team,” Griffin said. “But we have to learn to stay positive if things aren’t going our way because that hurt us. We were down and shots weren’t falling and we never fought back.”
SIU could not make its momentum last as UNI pushed the game to a 30-point lead, outscoring the Salukis 63-33 with 10 minutes left in the game.
Freshman Carlie Corrigan scored her first points as well as the first three-pointer for SIU with nine minutes to play.
Although the Salukis began to add some points to the scoreboard, it was not enough to bring them back into the game.
Head coach Cindy Stein said this loss did not result from the lack of energy, but from the lack of execution.
“I feel like Azia was the only one that really showed up, and we’ve got to get better and have good follow-ups against teams because this is the way our Valley rolls,” she said.
The Salukis sent their opponents to the line early and often, which led to 11 different UNI Panthers scoring at least one point in the game.
Stein said although the team is getting better, there needs to be a sense of consistency.
“Against Drake, we fought and did some great things,” she said. “We weren’t moving today and we didn’t come out and compete like we needed to.”
SIU will host three straight home games starting Friday against Illinois State University.
Symone Woolridge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on twitter @swoolridge_DE or 536-3311 ext. 269.