Saluki women suffer tough loss to Illinois State 73-70


Lylee Gibbs @lyleegibbsphotography

Ashley Jones (23) tosses the ball up towards the basket against Bradley University Jan. 5, 2022 at the Banterra Center in Carbondale Ill.

Southern Illinois women’s basketball (8-13, 5-8) dropped a nailbiter on Friday night in a one-possession game to the Valley’s best team, the Illinois State Redbirds (18-5, 12-1).

It was another close game between these two teams, again the difference being the Redbirds edging Southern by 3 points. But the free throw line and efficiency from long range was the deciding factor this time around.

SIU only managed to get to the charity stripe 4 times, while knocking down 3 in the process. They were outmatched by Illinois State on the ability to draw fouls, totaling a 16-for-20 night from the free throw line. The Salukis also attempted 9 more three pointers (9-for-24 from 3) than Illinois State (7-for-15 from 3) but not matching the Redbirds 47% clip from behind the arc. It continued a trend of ISU holding opponents to under 40% from three-point range in every game this season.


Illinois State jumped out to an early lead, besting Southern 19-15 at the end of the first quarter. But Ashley Jones and her 13 first half points led the Salukis during the second quarter, with SIU outscoring the Redbirds 24-17 during the period to go into halftime holding a 39-36 lead. Jones would go on to finish the game with 20 points, leading the Salukis.

Both offenses struggled to begin the second half, where even when scoring began to pick up later in the quarter, ISU only mustered 16 points to the Salukis’ 12 in the period. But the third quarter did finish with a bang, with the Redbirds’ star guard Paige Robinson firing a buzzer beater 3-pointer to take back the lead 52-51 heading to the fourth.

The game remained tight throughout the final period, with the closing minutes featuring back and forth long-range shots between Southern and Illinois State. Aja Holmes, who only fired from behind the arc and shot 5-for-10 from 3 in the game, banked a three to knot the game at 67 late in the fourth. But Mary Crompton, who shot 4-for-6 from 3, answered with a three of her own to catapult the Redbirds back into the lead 70-67.

Out of their timeout, Southern found the hot hand in Holmes who tied the game once again with another long distance shot with 27 seconds remaining. But ISU drew up a play for their shooter as well and delivered, with Robinson finding Crompton who put the dagger into SIU’s hopes with another three-pointer, giving the Redbirds the lead once more with 2.5 seconds left in regulation. The Salukis weren’t able to get a shot off in time and Illinois State escaped with a 73-70 lead to win their eleventh consecutive game.

The Salukis will aim to bounce back from their near-upset victory as they head to Bradley (3-20, 0-12) to face the Braves on Sunday at 2 pm.

Sports reporter Howard Woodard can be reached at [email protected]

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