SIU struggles late, fall in second round of MVC tournament to Belmont


Southern Illinois women’s basketball season came to an end on Friday night as they couldn’t pull off a major upset versus the Belmont Bruins. The Salukis lost 70-64 and finished the year at 12-19, but certainly didn’t play like such an inferior team against the second-seeded Bruins.

Southern led for 23:20 of the 40-minute affair, staying slightly in front of Belmont throughout the game. The Bruins then surged and separated themselves in the final period. The X-factor for them was guard Destinee Wells, who dropped 34 points, five rebounds, and two assists while shooting 11-for-17 from the field. She also was money at the charity stripe, knocking down 10 of 11 free throw attempts. No other Bruin got into double digits in scoring.

Ashley Jones atypically struggled, scoring 10 points on 3-for-15 shooting from the floor, going 0-for-3 from deep, along with 3 rebounds and 3 assists. Her play was slightly picked up by Laniah Randle, who led Southern with 12 points while again reeling in eight rebounds. Shemera Williams also tallied 11 points, four rebounds, and three assists.


It came down to the last five or six minutes where Wells tied the score at 61 all when she drove for a layup. Aja Holmes then knocked down a mid-range shot to put the Salukis back in front, but it would be the final SIU field goal made of the game, and consequently their season. Southern didn’t record a point aside from free throws for the final 4:50.

Off a Saluki turnover, Wells connected on a stepback three-point shot that put Belmont ahead. The Dawgs were in a drought scoring wise, not managing to create good looks against the Bruins defense. With the score at 67-64 in the final minute, they put the ball in the hands of Jones who missed a three-pointer in the attempt of tying the game, and then her shot was blocked after an SIU offensive rebound. Belmont held on to advance to the semifinals of the MVC tournament.

Playoff basketball was exhibited, with the score tight as the Bruins couldn’t connect from behind the arc. Although SIU only shot 3-for-12 (25%) from three, Belmont attempted ten more long range shots, totaling 5-for-22 (23%) from 3. They made up for it by drawing more fouls and then shooting 17-for-24 (71%) from the free throw line compared to the Salukis’ 9-for-14 (64%).

Precious Taylor and Tamara Nard split time down low, logging 21 and 19 minutes, respectively. Both players got into foul trouble, and Taylor actually fouled out late in the game. Taylor also only put up 5 attempts, scoring 6 points and bringing in 5 rebounds. Nard recorded 9 rebounds and 8 points in her time on the floor.

Quierra Love also committed four fouls, which could’ve led to her lack of aggression, only attempting four shots although she was 3-for-4 from the field and 2-for-3 which totaled to 8 points for the SIU guard. Taylor also only put up 5 attempts, scoring 6 points and bringing in 5 rebounds. Nard recorded 9 rebounds and 8 points in her time on the floor.

The Salukis will lose two significant pieces of their team in Ashley Jones and Precious Taylor heading into next season. Jones averaged 17 points, leading SIU in scoring, while Taylor was third on the squad with 10.5 points. Taylor also averaged about 6 rebounds but didn’t lead the team in that category.

Laniah Randle led the Dawgs with 6.5 boards, also impressing with averaging over 7 points. Quierra Love was named to the MVC All-Defensive team getting 2 steals per game which led SIU and ranked third in the Valley. Freshman Jaidynn Mason earned All-Freshman Team honors in the conference averaging 7.7 points and finished fifth in the Valley in steals. The Salukis will look for development from these players and others next season in order to fill the voids left by their departing seniors and take a leap as a team.


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

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