SIU women’s basketball outmatched by Oklahoma in season opener

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SIU women’s basketball outmatched by Oklahoma in season opener

Senior point guard Rishonda Napier, left, and freshman guard Kristen Nelson watch as a teammate shoots free throws Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, during the Salukis' 114-24 exhibition win over the MacMurray Highlanders at SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

Senior point guard Rishonda Napier, left, and freshman guard Kristen Nelson watch as a teammate shoots free throws Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, during the Salukis' 114-24 exhibition win over the MacMurray Highlanders at SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

Senior point guard Rishonda Napier, left, and freshman guard Kristen Nelson watch as a teammate shoots free throws Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, during the Salukis' 114-24 exhibition win over the MacMurray Highlanders at SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

Senior point guard Rishonda Napier, left, and freshman guard Kristen Nelson watch as a teammate shoots free throws Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, during the Salukis' 114-24 exhibition win over the MacMurray Highlanders at SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

By Sean Carley

The SIU women’s basketball team knew it had a tall task to start the season when it traveled to Norman, Okla., to face the Sooners.

However, the Salukis were unable to complete the upset, falling to Oklahoma 80-48.

SIU was actually able to hang around with the Sooners in the first two quarters, heading into halftime with just a six point deficit at 38-32.

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Almost all the Sooner damage was done by senior guard Gioya Carter and junior center Vionise Pierre-Louis. The two combined for 22 of the Sooners’ 38 first-half points.

The Salukis were mostly able to keep pace thanks to senior guard Rishonda Napier, who tried to keep SIU on track herself. She scored 14 points in the first two quarters, but needed 16 shots to do so and was 2-9 from behind-the-arc.

Senior point guard Rishonda Napier (13) and MacMurray freshman guard Karlie Davis (35) reach to recover a loose ball Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, during the Salukis' 114-24 exhibition win over the MacMurray Highlanders at SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

Senior point guard Rishonda Napier (13) and MacMurray freshman guard Karlie Davis (35) reach to recover a loose ball Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, during the Salukis’ 114-24 exhibition win over the MacMurray Highlanders at SIU Arena. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

Junior guard Kylie Giebelhausen also wasn’t able to line up her shots in the first half, scoring seven points on 10 shots.

The third quarter is when the wheels fell off the bus for SIU.

The Salukis went 0-10 from the field and could only score on two free throws, one by redshirt freshman forward Tiajaney Hawkins and one by freshman forward Lauren Hartman.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma had its best quarter, shooting 46.7 percent from the field and widening its lead by 21 points.

Seven different Sooners scored in the period, including Pierre-Louis, who added six more toward her game-high 18 total points.

SIU was unable to keep Oklahoma out of the paint throughout the game, as 54 of the Sooners’ 80 points came from inside the paint. Conversely, the Salukis struggled in the interior, shooting 30 3-pointers in the game and only making six.

Even though the game was already decided by the time the fourth quarter rolled around, SIU was able to brush off some of the damage. The Dawgs were only outscored by five in the final period.

Oklahoma’s bench was a key factor in its victory, outscoring SIU’s 32-9. Outside of Hawkins’ eight points, sophomore guard Olivia Bowling was the only Saluki reserve to score in the matchup with one.

SIU will try to recover at 6 p.m. Thursday when the Murray State Racers come to SIU Arena.

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

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

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