Saluki women staying focused on matchup with last-place Evansville

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By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

For a team with a winning record, a game against a 2-20 team can be easy to overlook. The SIU women’s basketball, which sits in fifth place in conference, is trying to make sure that does not happen.

“Anybody in the Valley can win on any night,” Saluki junior forward Carlie Corrigan said. “[Evansville has] good players. I think we just have to remember that everybody’s a threat.”

The Salukis (14-9) are 4-4 in their last eight games after starting the Missouri Valley Conference Season 3-0. SIU’s 7-4 conference record has it in fifth place in the MVC. 

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Evansville (1-10 MVC) enters the weekend on a seven-game losing streak. Its lone conference win this season was a 62-46 win against Bradley, which is 2-9 in conference, on Jan. 10. 

The Salukis have already lost a game to a last-place team this conference season. SIU fell to Wichita State, which was 0-6 in the MVC at the time on Jan. 22.

“This team learned a lot last year about not overlooking teams in the lower division,” coach Cindy Stein said. “And we got beat by Wichita State earlier in the year. Anybody can beat anybody in this conference, because we know each other so well, and I think our kids realize that.”

The Purple Aces are ninth in the MVC averaging 55.6 points per game, almost 3 points better than 10th-place Wichita State. 

Despite this, Evansville junior guard Sara Dickey is third in the conference with 16.5 points per game.

Dickey led Evansville with 13 points in the first meeting between the two teams Jan. 16., a 74-56 SIU win. She averages 21.0 points per game against the Salukis in five career games. 

“You can’t let her get hot,”  Saluki junior point guard Rishonda Napier said. “You cannot give her easy looks. Are we going to stop her from scoring altogether? Maybe. Maybe not. But we have to make her work for every point she gets.”

Evansville is SIU’s travel partner in the MVC, meaning the Salukis and Purple Aces play the same opponents on a given weekend. On weekends they play each other, they only have one game. This has led to an extended week of practice for SIU.

“I think the biggest thing is that we’ve had some tweaks and injuries, and it’s allowing us to rest,” Stein said. “Hopefully we’ll get better in some areas offensively and defensively, and we’ll concentrate on Evansville.”

The Dawgs play at Evansville at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3307

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