SIU WBB hang tough on road but fall to UNI


Lylee Gibbs @lyleegibbsphotography

Jaidynn Mason (22) guards Paige Rocca (22) of Missouri State as she follows her down the court Feb. 01, 2023 at Banterra Center in Carbondale Ill.

The Salukis (11-17, 8-11) traveled to face off against the third best team in the Missouri Valley Conference, the Northern Iowa Panthers (20-8, 15-4), but lost in a valiant effort 85-76. In a game where the Salukis faced three different 10+ point deficits, it was too tough to overcome at the McLeod Center.

Seniors Ashley Jones and Promise Taylor followed up their strong Senior Day performances on Sunday with great showings again. Jones dropped 22 points shooting 9-for-19 from the field along with four assists and two rebounds. Taylor scored 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting while collecting eight boards. Aja Holmes and Quierra Love also added 11 and 13 points, respectively. Love was three-for-six from beyond the arc while Holmes was a beast on the glass, grabbing seven rebounds.

The game started off slow offensively for the Dawgs, not being able to get on the board for the first three and a half minutes. Jones broke the ice, scoring the first 4 SIU points as Southern remained close with the Panthers in a game where referees didn’t blow their whistles until 4:21 in the first quarter.


Jones tallied eight points in the first quarter including a long mid-range shot to give the Salukis their first lead of the game 15-14 with under a minute to go. But Maya McDermott knocked down one of her three long-range shots that contributed to her 15 points overall to put UNI back on top to conclude the first period. The Panthers carried this into the second quarter, beginning to rain down threes and separate themselves quickly, creating their first 10-point advantage 39-29 and forcing a SIU timeout.

Love and Holmes began to make their marks on the game after the timeout. Holmes put together a quick five-point stretch, and Love knocked down a couple three’s that eventually knotted the game at 34. Love then passed a dime off to Jones who put Southern in front with a three-pointer off her own. The half ended with the teams even at 39 apiece.

The Panthers had four different players in double figures, including forward Grace Boffeli who put up a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds on 7-for-13 shooting. Kam Finley put up 17 points and five boards while being perfect from deep, knocking down all three of her three-point attempts. Emerson Green was huge as well, dropping 15 points along with six rebounds. Rachel Heittola was also effective, scoring seven points with four boards and four dimes.

The efficiency comparisons were the difference in the game, with SIU shooting 29-for-69 (42%) overall and 9-for-32 (28.1%) from three-point range from the field while UNI shot 30-for-56 (53.6%) from the floor and 11-for-18 (61.1%) from deep. This was displayed as Green and Heittola hit two threes on the path to a 10-0 run for the Panthers to open the second half.

But the Dawgs stayed resilient, as Jones and Holmes responded with three’s of their own to cut the deficit to 56-51. The team hung tough, once cutting the lead to as low as three when Tyranny Brown knocked down a deep shot and Holmes added a layup to start the fourth quarter. But quick and efficient threes bit the Salukis again, with McDermott and Green sharpshooting again from behind the arc to stretch the Panther lead to 71-60.

Southern attempted to get back in the game but there were too many open drives given up, as they struggled to get back in transition and guard shots down low. This was in part to Taylor playing 32 minutes and not getting time off her feet as forward Zoe Belcher recorded three fouls in her four minutes of play.

It resulted in a foul and free-throw-filled final few minutes of game time that ended in an 85-76 victory for UNI. The Salukis will look for better results in their regular season finale on Saturday, March 4, against another team above them in the standings, the Drake Bulldogs (18-9, 13-6) at 2pm.


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

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