Post trouble and poor shooting caused the Salukis to fall 89-41 during Saturday’s game against Illinois State.
The 89 points marked a season-high in points for the Redbirds (12-6, 4-2 Missouri Valley Conference), and the margin was SIU’s worst loss against a conference opponent since the ‘03-‘04 season. It is also the team’s worst loss in an away game this season.
SIU (4-12, 1-4 MVC) scored the game’s first two baskets but found little success after the Redbirds went on a 34-6 run and outscored the Salukis 45-18 in the first half.
“I think they got shell-shocked once (ISU) went on that 20-0 run,” Harlow said. “They knocked us down with that blow, and we didn’t get back up and do anything about it. That part was disappointing.”
The second half played about the same as the first as ISU outscored the Salukis 44-23, and the Salukis were held to just over 25 percent shooting on the night.
Sophomore guard Cartaesha Macklin, SIU’s leading scorer on the season, was held to just 1-13 shooting during the game and ended the night with just 2 points. This stopped her six-game double-digit scoring streak. Redshirt freshman forward Azia Washington was the Salukis’ leading scorer of the night with 9 points, and no SIU player scored above double-digit figures during the game.
“We just couldn’t find the basket,” Harlow said. “Even wide open layups, we had them and they rolled out. It was just one of those nights where nothing went our way.”
Five Redbird players ended the night with at least 10 points, including senior guard Candace Sykes, who led all scorers with 19 points. Redbird forward Janae Smith added 13 points, nine rebounds and three steals on the night.
Post defense has proven to be an SIU difficulty this season. Opponents have outrebounded the Salukis 140-85 over their three-road-game losing streak. The Salukis have also given up an average 30.6 points in the paint over the same stretch.
SIU has lost every game that has seen more than 1,000 attendees, according to the Saluki Athletics website, including their 110-47 loss Dec. 16 to Mizzou when 1,280 fans attended.
The loss makes SIU 4-12 on the season and 1-4 in conference play. The only team ranked worse against MVC opponents is Drake (5-11, 0-5).
The road will not get easier for the Salukis, as they face conference-leading Wichita State (10-6, 4-0) Friday at SIU Arena. This will be the Salukis’ first home game since their Jan. 5 77-70 win against Drake.