Daily Egyptian

3-pointers open the floor for Saluki women

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

Fat Joe sang about making it rain nearly a decade ago. The SIU women’s basketball team actually does make it rain — threes, that is.

The Salukis (11-6, 4-1 Missouri Valley Conference) lead the MVC in 3-point percentage at .340 percent and are third in threes made with 120.

Junior point guard Rishonda Napier said the long ball helps open up SIU’s dominant post game, and that post game helps create more open looks.

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“They kind of complement each other,” Napier said. “When our low-block players get going, defenses can’t collapse on them without worrying about us hitting our threes. And at the same time, it stretches the floor and makes it easier to get the ball inside.”

Napier leads the Salukis and is second in the MVC with 47 3-pointers made. Northern Iowa senior forward Amber Sorenson leads the Valley with 54, but has shot 154 threes compared to Napier’s 116.

Napier’s .405 3-point percentage is second to Missouri State senior guard Kenzie Williams, but Napier has the highest percentage among players with more than 100 attempts.

Twice this season, Napier has made six 3-pointers in a game, the fifth-highest single-game total in school history. She accomplished that feat in back-to-back games, first in a Dec. 12 102-65 win against Morehead State and a week later in a 55-52 win at Mercer. 

“Every time I shoot, I feel like I have a chance to make it,” Napier said. “And I have confidence in [our post players] to clean up if I miss.”

But it’s not all Napier. Senior guard Cartaesha Macklin, who recently became SIU’s all-time leading scorer in women’s hoops, is fifth in the conference with a .385 3-point percentage.

Sophomore guard/forward Kylie Giebelhausen is second on the team and 10th in the conference with 29 made threes. Through Dec. 28, her 3-point percentage was .281, but since the start of conference play on Jan. 1, she has made 11 of 24 threes, good for a .458 shooting percentage.

Giebelhausen has been even better in the Salukis’ last three games, making 9 of 17 threes during that span.

She said expanding her game has helped her find her 3-point stroke.

“I think I’m not as focused on [the three] being my only way of scoring,” Giebelhausen said. “And so my mind’s not focused on shooting threes and overthinking that one thing, and they start to fall.”

Senior center Dyana Pierre, who is averaging a double-double with 13.7 points and 12.3 rebounds per game, said the Salukis’ 3-point shooting helps her out in the paint.

“Shoot away, you know? Threes are better than twos,” Pierre said. “It makes it easier for me because [the defense] can’t double team me. When shots start falling, we all get confident and we get more hyped about it.”

The Dawgs will try to continue their hot shooting Friday against Wichita State in Kansas.

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

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