Salukis overcome slow start to take down Mercer

By Ted Ward, @TedWard_DE

The SIU women’s basketball team settled in after a slow start to beat Mercer 55-52 on Saturday.

Things started off slow in the first half for the Salukis (6-4), as they were down 21-11 with 8:46 remaining in the first quarter and shot 28 percent from the floor.

Junior guard Rishonda Napier, who finished with 20 points, had all 11 of SIU’s points in the first quarter, going 3-3 from the three point line with 17 points in the first half. She finished shooting 6-9 from outside.


SIU struggled to make shots at 30.2 percent for the game — a 12 percent dip from the season average.

“I think both teams played really well at times and really poor at times,” SIU coach Cindy Stein said. “We played with some great energy down the stretch and kept it up even when things didn’t quite swing our way.”

Senior center Dyana Pierre, who finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds, was completely shut down in the first quarter by Mercer (6-5), as she didn’t register a point until 7:52 in the second quarter.

“Mercer made some adjustments and defended us very well in the post and made adjustments throughout the game,” Stein said. “We tried to keep going inside when there were better options but it’s a game that makes us better.”

Trailing throughout the first half, Napier gave SIU its first lead at 3:04 in the second quarter with a three, but the Salukis fell behind again until sophomore guard/forward Kylie Giebelhausen hit a three with 31 seconds left in the first half to put SIU in front 33-30.

Coming out of the break, Mercer regained the lead as they shot 3-4 while holding SIU to 1-6 shooting. The held onto the lead until Napier hit another three to put SIU up two, 44-42, with 1:52 left in the third quarter. Mercer tied the game, but the Salukis went on a 6-0 run that would put them out in front to stay.

SIU junior forward Kim Nebo missed both free throws while the Salukis led 53-52, but an offensive rebound by Giebelhausen and a foul that put senior guard Cartesha Macklin at the line where she made both to put SIU up by three.


“It was a big rebound that she got,” Stein said. “We played well down the stretch but there are some things we still need to clean up and work on.”

With 2.2 seconds remaining and trailing 55-52 with Macklin’s free throws, Mercer sophomore guard Kahlia Lawrence threw up a long three that missed and give SIU the victory.

SIU will be back on the court against Southeast Missouri State at 12 p.m. on Dec. 22 in Cape Girardeau, MO.

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