The SIU women’s basketball team was unable to overcome a dismal shooting night as it lost 59-46 to the University of Central Arkansas in its first game of the 2012-13 campaign.
It was the fourth consecutive season-opening loss for the Salukis, who shot 20-70 from the field and 2-16 from three-point range.
The Salukis took an early 4-0 lead, but a subsequent 22-3 Central Arkansas run put the defending Southland Conference champion in the lead for good.
The Sugar Bears, who went 24-7 last season and earned a spot in the National Invitational Tournament, dominated on the boards, as it out-rebounded the Salukis 55-39.
Central Arkansas (2-0) were led by forward Megan Herbert, the two-time defending Southland Conference Player of the Year and one of six seniors on the team. Herbert put on a show, as she scored 32 points and grabbed 24 rebounds including 17 on defense.
“She’s a player (who) doesn’t miss shots,” sophomore center Alexus Patterson said. “We (should) have been able to guard her and stop her.”
Herbert also made 14 of 16 free throws for the Sugar Bears, who went to the line 36 times — which is four times as many as the Salukis.
It was a difficult game overall for the Salukis, who only had one player in double figures in any statistical category. Patterson led SIU with 11 points and recorded six rebounds as well as two steals.
Guard Cartaesha Macklin, who is also the current Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Year, was in foul trouble for most of the game and sat for most of the first half after tweaking her knee. In only 21 minutes of play, she scored four points along with two assists.
Rishonda Napier also had a tough night. In her first taste of college play, the freshman guard scored only six points and turned the ball over nine times.
“She’s a great player, but I think she was putting a lot of pressure on herself,” coach Missy Tiber said. “I don’t think either one of those kids played to their abilities.”
Forward Dyana Pierre led the Salukis with nine rebounds. The redshirt freshman also added seven points and two blocks. Junior guard Jordyn Courier, who finished with nine points and three rebounds, said she was disappointed with the team’s performance in its first game.
“It’s hard to look at the stats sheet because I know we’re better than that,” she said. Tiber said she thought her players put forth a good effort despite the team’s foul issues and rebound troubles. “No offense to their team, they’re good, but they only have one great player,” she said. “I think we could have won this game, and I’m a little disappointed.”
The Salukis will return to action at 2 p.m. Saturday at Loyola-Chicago.