Daily Egyptian

SIU women’s basketball gets first taste of action during preseason game

SIU+senior+forward+Kim+Nebo+%2824%29+puts+up+a+shot+during+the+Salukis%27+78-58+win+over+the+William+Woods+Owls+on+Thursday%2C+Oct.+27%2C+2016%2C+at+the+SIU+Arena.+%28Ryan+Michalesko+%7C+%40photosbylesko%29
SIU senior forward Kim Nebo (24) puts up a shot during the Salukis' 78-58 win over the William Woods Owls on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, at the SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

SIU senior forward Kim Nebo (24) puts up a shot during the Salukis' 78-58 win over the William Woods Owls on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, at the SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

SIU senior forward Kim Nebo (24) puts up a shot during the Salukis' 78-58 win over the William Woods Owls on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, at the SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

By Sean Carley

With only 17 days until SIU women’s basketball tips off its season, time is running low for the team to figure out its rotation.

The Dawgs took the first step of the 2016-17 season Thursday with a 78-58 exhibition win over NAIA William Woods.

“It’s hard when you’re playing against yourself all the time to really know where you’re challenged,” SIU coach Cindy Stein said. “That’s why it’s good to have a game like this.”

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This year’s team is loaded with underclassmen, including six freshmen who saw organized collegiate play for the first time Thursday.

Freshmen guard/forward Caitlyn Claussen and guard Kristen Nelson led the underclassmen with nine points each.

The star of the game was senior forward Kim Nebo, who shot 89 percent from the field (8-9) to drop a game-high 14 points. She only averaged 5.3 points per game last season.

Nebo’s performance even caught her coach’s critical eye.

“Honestly, she was a question mark going into this game because she had been inconsistent in practice,” Stein said. “She probably took a big step tonight in securing a spot.”

Saluki freshman guard/forward Caitlyn Claussen attempts to block Owl senior guard April Gebke during SIU's 78-58 win against William Woods University on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, at SIU Arena. (Jacob Wiegand | @JacobWiegand_DE)

For Stein, the game was less about the result than trying to see what rotation worked for her players.

“The chemistry issue tonight was my fault,” she said. “I wanted to play different people. I wanted to try to get different people in there together that haven’t played with each other yet.”

At one point, senior guard Rishonda Napier was playing with four freshmen.

In addition to the six freshmen, redshirt freshman forward Tiajaney Hawkins made her first appearance in a long time. She returned to the floor for the first time in almost 11 months after recovering from shoulder surgery.

She finished with nine points and a team-high seven rebounds.

“We knew she was going to be a big rebounder,” Stein said. “But the biggest thing for her is she’s got to play in the scheme because sometimes she can play in her own scheme.”

Despite never trailing in the game, Stein was disappointed in her team’s defense. The Salukis allowed William Woods to shoot 40 percent in the second half and only outscored the Owls by five in the second half.

“Our defense sucked,” SIU’s coach said. “Our defense has got to be 10 times better. We play Oklahoma in our first game so we got to get a lot better defensively.”

SIU will have one more opportunity to test its system on another team Nov. 4 against MacMurray College before heading to Norman to face the Sooners on Nov. 13.

Sports editor Sean Carley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @SCarleyDE.

To stay up to date with all your SIU sports news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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