Saluki WBB falls to Valpo on Senior Day

By Brooke Buerck, Sports Reporter

Up until the fourth quarter, neither Southern Illinois nor Valparaiso held more than a four point lead, but within the last 10 minutes the Crusaders made a final push to seal the game. 

Valpo used a buzzer-beater 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter and a 23-14 run in the fourth to take the 69-58 win over the Salukis for their last home game of the season. 

“The key to the game came down to [defense.] We had lack of rotations on three-point shooters […] so we had a broken game plan,” Saluki head coach Cindy Stein said. “In our league, anybody can beat anybody on a given night, and you can’t have those kinds of mishaps. Unfortunately it happened, I feel bad for these seniors because I know how bad they wanted it, but […] it’s a new season now.”

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Both the Salukis (16-13, 8-10 MVC) and the Crusaders (17-11, 9-8 MVC) were vying for their ninth MVC win just before their conference championship tournament kicks off on Mar. 12. 

Southern’s junior forward Abby Brockmeyer led both teams offensively with a points-rebounds double-double with 19 points and 11 boards. 

Seniors Nicole Martin, a forward, and Brittney Patrick, a guard, both added 10 points apiece as well.

For Valparaiso, junior forward Grace White led with 16 points while senior forward Grace Hales followed up with 15. 

The Salukis held a slight 34-33 advantage at halftime over the Crusaders, while neither team held more than a four-point advantage over the other in the first 20 minutes. 

Southern went 14-for-31 in the first half with Patrick in the lead with seven first-half points. 

Valpo was 11-for-33 from the field and White led with 9 points. 

The Crusaders and the Salukis were back-and-forth for the third quarter of play as well, until Valpo’s sophomore guard Carie Weinman gave the Crusaders a surge of energy headed into the fourth quarter with a 3-point make in the last seconds of the third that gave them the 46-44 lead. 

“It hurt us for sure. We tried to regroup, but didn’t do too well,” Brockmeyer said. “Obviously we can’t leave good shooters open.”

Carrying that over, Crusaders junior forward Marlee Profitt and White both hit a 3-point shot each and Hales found a jumper early in the fourth to put Valpo up by eight.

“Unfortunately, we had some kids have to guard out on the perimeter that probably aren’t used to it, and did not play very well defensively and it definitely hurt us,” Stein said. 

Two junior guard Addison Stoller free throws and another White jumper gave the Crusaders a double-digit lead of 59-48.

Southern’s junior guard Awa Keita broke the scoring drought for the Salukis with a free throw make, and Brockmeyer’s 10 fourth quarter points tried to get Southern back in the game, but a strong Crusader defense and SIU’s missed free throws kept Valpo in the lead as time ran out.

“Valparaiso does a good job of getting the shot clock down and controlling the clock,” Stein said. 

The Salukis struggled at the free throw line amidst a highly-physical game, hitting only 10-of-23 while Valparaiso made 21-of-29. 

“We didn’t execute our plays right, and we also fouled a lot, and that resulted in them having a lot of free throw [opportunities] that they didn’t miss,” Patrick said. 

The Salukis return to the floor on Mar. 12 for the first round of the MVC Championship tournament playoffs. 

Seventh-seeded SIU will face 10th-seeded Evansville at Moline, Illinois on Thursday. 

Sports reporter Brooke Buerck can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @bbuerck25.

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