Daily Egyptian

Saluki frontcourt slowly gaining traction

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

The SIU women’s basketball team had the same players start at center and power forward in 29 of 30 games last year.

Although both players returned for 2015, senior power forward Azia Washington and senior center Dyana Pierre started together Sunday for the first time all season.

“It felt pretty good,” Pierre said. “We work so well together just because we know each other well.”

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Pierre missed the Dawgs’ season opener while serving a suspension for violating team rules, and Washington has been limited in her recovery from offseason knee surgery.

Sunday’s 61-58 loss at Memphis was Washington’s first start of the season after starting 58 of 60 games the previous two years. She scored two points and collected six rebounds in a season-high 23 minutes played.

Washington said the chronic knee problems that necessitated offseason arthroscopic surgery are still nagging her.

“It’s going to be a battle,” she said. “There’s going to be some days where they’re good, some days where they’re bad. Today I’ll get in the ice bath and see how it goes.”

Pierre averaged 14.6 points per game in 2014 while Washington added 10.6, the second and third-highest totals on the team.

Pierre is second on the team with 13.8 points per game this season. Washington averages five points and 14 minutes per game.

Washington said she is getting better.

“Defensively I’m trying to pick it up and get back to how I usually am,” she said. “I haven’t made any threes yet. That’s discouraging, but I just stay in the gym and work on my shot. It’s going to come back.”

Coach Cindy Stein said the starters in the frontcourt have been variable this year.

“I think it’s gone well at times,” she said. “Other time’s it’s been a little rusty. I think it kind of depends on the personnel we’re playing. We’re just going to go with whoever gives us the best chance.”

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

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