Saluki women ride Love’s career-high 24 to road win

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Dominique Martinez-Powell | @dmartinez_powell.photography

SIU sophomore, Quierra Love, guards an Illinois State Redbirds’ player during the basketball game Jan. 20, 2022 at the Banterra Center in Carbondale, Ill.

Sophomore guard Quierra Love dropped a career-high 24 points as Southern Illinois (13-7, 8-2 in MVC) cruised past the Indiana State Sycamores (10-11, 5-5 in MVC) by a score of 79-55 in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Love’s 24 was complemented by a combined 36 from fifth year forwards Abby Brockmeyer and Gabby Walker. They picked up much of the slack offensively as leading scorer Makenzie Silvey had an off night. Her 4-17 shooting on Wednesday was her worst since November.

“My team needs me to score more besides the big three that we have on our team,” Love said on the Saluki Radio postgame. “I just took what I was given, they made great passes, and I made it for them.”

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After Silvey hit a jumper 21 seconds into the game, SIU never relinquished the lead. The team jumped out to a quick 15-3 lead in the first four minutes of the game. Although the Sycamores would climb back into the game, the Salukis held on and eventually pulled away, hitting 10 of 14 shots in the fourth quarter to finish it off.

“I thought we got a little loosey-goosey, especially in the first half,” head coach Cindy Stein said on the Saluki Radio postgame. “But I thought the second half was very strong.”

Much of the Saluki offense came courtesy of their defense and rebounding. They converted 20 Sycamore turnovers into 27 points, and turned 16 offensive rebounds into 19 second-chance points. Brockmeyer alone pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds, four of which were offensive rebounds that were turned into eight total points.

The win on Wednesday keeps the Salukis in the thick of the Missouri Valley Conference race, as they remain just half a game behind Northern Iowa (16-6, 9-2) and Illinois State (13-9, 9-2) for the top seed in the conference.

The schedule won’t get much easier, however, as SIU will defend its unbeaten home record as it hosts Northern Iowa on Friday, followed by Drake (12-10, 4-7) looking to play spoiler on Sunday. Northern Iowa is one of the Salukis’ only two losses of the year.

A concern heading into that pivotal matchup will be potential fatigue. Sunday’s Drake game will be the team’s fifth in ten days as SIU plays its most taxing stretch of the season thus far.

“We’ve said this all along, it is what it is,” Stein said. “We’ve just got to go on to the next.”

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Last week, two games in three days resulted in a split against Missouri State (16-5, 7-3). Another loss in this stretch may be the difference between the Salukis getting the top seed in the MVC Tournament or not. The way they played on Wednesday seemed to indicate that the team is still firing on all cylinders, but this weekend will be the toughest test yet.

Tipoff for Friday’s Northern Iowa game is 6 p.m. from the Banterra Center. The Drake game on Sunday will tip off at 2 p.m.

Staff reporter Brandyn Wilcoxen can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Brandyn_2020. To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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