Saluki women look to shock the Shockers on the road

By Ted Ward, @TedWard_DE

Coming off a 74-56 win against Evansville on Jan. 16, the Salukis face the Wichita State Shockers at 7 p.m. Friday seeking their first win in the Charles Koch Arena since the 2007-08 season. 

The Shockers (3-14, 0-6 Missouri Valley Conference) are having a woeful year after losing leading scorer Alex Harden to the WNBA and injuries to three of their starters. They come into the game on a seven-game losing streak.

Wichita State coach Jody Adams is 11-3 against SIU since becoming head coach during the 2008-09 season. Last season the Shockers swept the season series.

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SIU coach Cindy Stein, who is 1-4 against the Shockers, said Wichita State will be back at full strength and shouldn’t be underestimated because of its 3-14 record. 

“Wichita is always a tough defensive opponent and they’ve played their entire season without some of their major pieces,” Stein said. “They’re back to full strength and are still a dangerous team so we’ll have to play them tough.”

This season, the Shockers rank last in the conference in scoring, averaging just 51.8 points a game. SIU (11-6, 4-1 MVC) is giving up 65.1 per game. 

Defensively however, the Shockers allow 61.4 points a game, which ranks them third in the MVC, and they’re second in the conference with 9.5 steals per game. WSU is forced 18.3 turnovers a game while SIU gives up an average of 14.5 a game. If the Salukis turn the ball over against the Shockers it will be a tough game to win on the road.

“They’re very disciplined, defensively, and it will be a challenge for us to not turn the ball over,” Stein said. ‘We can’t afford to turn the ball over against a team like this or any team because they’ll make us pay.”  

Still, SIU may have a high-scoring game since the Salukis average 70.4 points per game — second in conference. Junior guard Rishonda Napier leads the team in scoring with 15.3 points per game, which is fourth-best in the conference.

Wichita sophomore forward Rangie Bessard is the Shockers leading scorer with 14.9 points per game as she returns from an injury that kept her out of the first seven games of the year. 

Senior center Dyana Pierre could  have a big game on the boards against Bessard. Pierre leads the MVC with 12.3 rebounds a game, compared to Bessard’s 8.6.

Pierre and the Saluki frontcourt should get boards left and right no matter who is out there for the Shockers. SIU is first in the conference with 44.8 rebounds per game, while the Wichita State is last with 29.8.

With a win, SIU would move into a tie for first place with Drake and Northern Iowa with a 5-1 conference record.

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

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