Daily Egyptian

Ramblers’ Manuel presents challenge for Salukis

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

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The biggest player on a basketball court is usually a challenge for the opposing team to stop in the post. That challenge becomes even tougher when that player has some perimeter game, too.

Loyola junior forward Taylor Manuel will present that kind of challenge for the SIU women’s basketball team when the Salukis travel to Chicago for a Missouri Valley Conference matchup Friday night.

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“Her skill set is enormous,” SIU coach Cindy Stein said. “She presents that problem of if you put a guard on her, she posts you up. If you put a post on her, she takes you out and faces the basket and makes good plays.”

The 6-foot-2 Manuel posted 13 points and 11 rebounds Jan. 10 in a 69-68 Loyola (10-10, 6-3 MVC) overtime win in the first meeting between the two teams this season.

She averages 20.3 points and 13 rebounds in three career games against SIU. The Ramblers are 1-2 in those games.

The Salukis (13-8, 6-3 MVC) might be without their starting center for a third straight game Friday. Senior center Dyana Pierre practiced Wednesday for the first time since suffering a separated shoulder Jan. 24. Stein said Pierre is not at full strength yet and is day-to-day.

Pierre’s absence would mean other SIU post players would need to step up to defend Manuel.

“We can’t really play behind her,” senior forward Azia Washington said. “She’s a great post player. We’ve got to clog the paint and just get her outside as much as we can.”

Manuel is sixth in the MVC with an average of 14.6 points per game, third in rebounding with 7.6 boards per game and 11th in assists with 2.9 per game. She is tied for fifth with sophomore forward teammate Ryaen Johnson with 1.5 blocked shots per game.

“Her passing is actually a big threat in the paint,” sophomore forward/center Celina VanHyfte said. “Whenever she gets the ball, she either shoots or she has a good assist. I think our main goal will be to get her the least amount of touches possible.”

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

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