The SIU women’s basketball team will close its exhibition season tonight against the No. 9 ranked NAIA team in the nation, Lambuth University.
The Salukis defeated Christian Brothers 77-46 in their first exhibition Nov. 4, behind 20 points and nine rebounds from freshman Olivia Lett.
SIU head coach Dana Eikenberg said the key to a Saluki victory against Lambuth is to shoot more free throws.
‘I don’t think we did a good job in our offense attacking the rim (against Christian Brothers),’ Eikenberg said. ‘If we can get to the rim, get to the free throw line early, that will be a good measure of where we’re at.’
Sophomore Katrina Swingler, who scored 19 points against Christian Brothers, said the Salukis have to approach the game as if it is a regular season game.
‘We can’t play like it’s an exhibition game,’ Swingler said. ‘We need to play with high expectations and go in hard.’
The Salukis will also look for leadership from senior Jasmine Gibson, who recorded 18 points and six rebounds in the first game of the season.
Lambuth defeated St. Catherine in its first game of the season and limited a St. Catherine team that had averaged 95.5 points per game to just 41 points.
The Eagles are led by a group of four 6-foot or taller players, including 6-foot-3-inch junior Donna Lavea, who averaged 12.5 points per game last season.
Swingler said with the Eagles’ strong inside presence, the Salukis have to play well defensively.
‘That’s how we’re going to win every game,’ Swingler said. ‘Playing good defense and outworking people. We have to get stops and outhustle them.’
Last season, Lambuth went 24-10 overall and 14-4 in the TranSouth Conference. They made it to the NAIA Sweet 16 before being eliminated by Vanguard University 70-67.
Lambuth returns its top four scoreres from last season, all of which scored over 10 points per game, including junior Yolanda Johnson who averaged 14.4 points per game.
Eikenberg said she expects the Eagles’ recent success to give them confidence against the Salukis.
‘They’re a very solid team with experience,’ Eikenberg said. ‘They have a strong back court with a big inside game.’
Stile Smith can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 282 or [email protected]