Southern Illinois’ historic regular season comes to a close after loss to Illinois State in semifinals of conference tournament

By Cole Daily, Staff Reporter

The Salukis’ women’s basketball team spent its second day in Moline, Illinois at the Hoops in the Heartland Tournament where they took on the fourth-seeded Redbirds.

ISU put points on the board first with 8:23 left in the half. It seemed both teams needed to shake off some nerves before they would be able to score.

Senior center Gabby Walker scored with just over seven minutes to play in the first quarter to even out the score, 2-2. The nerves continued until the first media timeout of the game with 4:47 left on the clock. Illinois State led 5-4.


The rest of the first quarter did not go the Salukis’ way. The Redbirds went on an 8-2 run after the media timeout. ISU held a 13-6 lead to start the second quarter.

The second quarter was more of the same. Neither team managed to go on a run, and SIU could get a single bucket to fall, even until the second media timeout of the game with 6:38 left in the half. Luckily for SIU, ISU could only score one bucket to make the score 15-6.

The defense of ISU was immensely tough on senior forward Abby Brockmeyer, as she couldn’t buy a bucket almost a half into this game.

“It was very physical inside. You are not going to see Abby Brockmeyer go 5-13 very much. It was a battle down there,” Head Coach Cindy Stein said.

Finally, with 5:42 on the clock in the second quarter, Brockmeyer scored with a hook shot to cut the Redbirds’ lead to seven.

The Salukis finally put something together after a three from senior forward Mackenzie Silvey sparked a run. SIU scored two more buckets at the end of the half to minimize ISU’s lead, 20-15.

SIU immediately went on a 9-2 run to open the half, tying the game at 22 with eight minutes left in the third quarter. ISU regained the lead, 26-24, by the third media timeout.


Unfortunately for the Dawgs, the Redbirds went on a run of their own before the end of the third quarter. Illinois State held a commanding 35-24 lead at the end of the third. SIU would need nothing short of a miracle to come back and be victorious.

Illinois State’s defense continued to be suffocating, maintaining their solid lead. The Redbirds led 40-28 with just 6:25 left in the game.

After the final media timeout of the game, Southern Illinois went a run, once again sparked by Silvey and her defensive pressure. The Salukis cut the lead to 46-40 with just under a minute left.

Eventually, all hope was lost for SIU as the clock struck zero. The Redbirds had won, 50-42.

Brockmeyer totaled 11 points and seven boards, but only managed to shoot 5-13 from the field. Silvey was SIU’s leading scorer, putting up 12 points. Rough shooting night for everyone, as she could only shoot 4-15 from the field.

Stein said she knew her team wasn’t hitting their shots tonight, and it was very hard to come back and win. But she was adamant ISU brought their best game tonight.

“I thought they played a great game. They had a great game plan and it threw us off our balance,” Stein said.

Silvey said SIU needed to be better on offense in order to grab the win.

“We let ourselves get sped up and credit to them for playing us hard and physical. Our defense was good but our offense could have been better,” Silvey said.

At this point, Southern Illinois needs to pray the selection committee will grant them an at-large bid in the tournament on Sunday.

Even if the team doesn’t make March Madness, they will have a higher chance to compete in the NIT tournament, where their season will continue. Stein said her team will have to be ready for that as well.

“We just wanna get better. I know I want to get better and I think our players are the same way[…]We’re gonna put everything we have into what’s left,” Stein said.

“We’re keeping our spirits high. We know that tournament (NIT) isn’t anything to hang your head about,” Silvey said, “There’s a lot of basketball to be played, so we’re going to treat every game like our last and give it all we have.”

The fate of the Salukis will be determined on Selection Sunday, March 13, at 7 p.m. The show will be broadcasted on ESPN and ESPN2.

Sports Reporter Cole Daily can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at cdaily_de

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