Salukis outlast Missouri State in Pierre’s return

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By Ted Ward, @TedWard_DE

SIU women’s basketball took down Missouri State, 69-61 after riding the hot shooting of two players.

Led by junior guard Rishonda Napier’s season-high 23 points and sophomore guard Kylie Giebelhausen’s career-high 18, the Salukis avenged its 82-77 loss to the Bears on Jan. 24. The Bears were led by 14 points from sophomore guard Liza Fruendt and senior guard Tyonna Snow.

Napier said this win was sweeter because of how well the team played as a whole.

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“When it comes down to it, this was a solid, overall team win,” she said. “We could have gotten down on ourselves, but we stuck together and gutted it out.”

Senior center Dyana Pierre made her return from injury and finished with eight points and 10 rebounds as SIU outrebounded Missouri State 39-36.

Napier said it brought an energy to the team when it needed it most.

“It was definitely great to have her back out there,” she said. “She played through a lot of pain and didn’t let it bother her.”

In the second quarter, Missouri State continued the momentum going up 24-16, its largest lead of the night. The Salukis would hold the Bears to just 1-12 shooting and closed the half on a 12-4 run to head into the half tied at 28.

SIU came out hot in the second half with a 7-0 run to push the lead to 10 in the fourth quarter. Missouri State came back to take the lead with 3:32 left in the game.

A late  jumper in the lane by Napier and a 3-pointer by Giebelhausen gave the Salukis the lead for good.

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Coach Cindy Stein said she was happy with her team’s effort and overall chemistry.

“These last few games we’ve just had kids who have stepped up and its been really encouraging to see,” she said. “Our effort tonight just showed you the will of this team to win.”

With the win, SIU moves one game out of first place and has a shot at a regular-season conference title.

The Salukis hit the hardwood again on at 2 p.m. Sunday against Wichita State at SIU Arena.

Ted Ward can be reached at [email protected] or 618-534-3303

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