Washington’s big day leads Salukis past Illinois State


By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

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Saluki power forward Azia Washington’s senior season has been riddled with complications from chronic knee pain, but you wouldn’t knowing watching Sunday’s game. 

She powered past that pain in a 76-71 win against Illinois State (5-15, 3-6 Missouri Valley Conference).


Washington recorded season highs with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 26 minutes played as the Salukis (13-8, 6-3 MVC) picked up their first weekend sweep of Illinois State and Indiana State since 1996-97.

“I feel the best that I’ve felt since … last year,” Washington said. “I’m looking forward to other teams knowing that I’m back.”

Saluki coach Cindy Stein prompted a big momentum shift when called timeout with 42 seconds left in the first quarter and her team trailing 21-16. 

Junior forward Carlie Corrigan hit a 3-pointer shortly after the timeout, sparking a 14-0 Saluki run. 

SIU entered the locker room with a 35-28 halftime lead. Sophomore guard/forward Kylie Giebelhausen led all scorers with nine first-half points on 3-5 shooting from beyond the arc. Senior forward Colleene Smith led Illinois State with eight.

“I had a clear mind coming in,” said Giebelhausen, who played all 40 minutes and finished with 13 points. “I was ready to go.”

Washington, who started just her fourth game of the season, had eight points and eight rebounds in the first half.


A jumper by freshman guard Shakeela Fowler brought Illinois State within four points of SIU a minute and a half into the second half.

Washington made a layup 30 seconds later, and the Salukis led by at least five in the remainder of the game.

ISU made a comeback attempt in the fourth quarter, cutting a 70-55 lead to 70-64 over a span of two minutes, but SIU made all six of its free-throw attempts in the last minute to fend off the Rebirds.

“I feel fortunate that we won, not playing the type of basketball that we necessarily want to play,” Stein said. “I just felt like we weren’t very sharp, but I guess you’ve got to credit Illinois State. They did something right to make that happen.”

Junior point guard Rishonda Napier led SIU with a game-high 17 points. Fowler scored 15 to pace Illinois State.

Washington’s 11 rebounds led all players. Redbird senior forward Octavia Crump recorded eight boards to lead her team.

SIU senior center Dyana Pierre missed her second straight game with a dislocated right shoulder.

The Salukis will be back in action at 7 p.m. Friday at Loyola.

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