Pierre at center of rebound season for Salukis

By Thomas Donley, @TdonleyDE

SIU junior center Dyana Pierre is dominating lanes all over the Missouri Valley Conference once again this season.

A 2014 First Team All-MVC selection, Pierre averages 11.5 rebounds per game, leading the conference. She is sixth in the Valley in scoring at 15.0 points per game and second in blocks with 1.2 per game.

Pierre could be on her way to her second straight all-conference award, as she has improved her scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage. She led the conference in rebounding as a sophomore and finished ninth in scoring.

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Evansville coach Oties Epps called her a dynamic, versatile post player who has the ability to dominate the game.

Although she is the Salukis’ tallest player at 6-foot-2-inches, Pierre is not the tallest player on eight of the MVC’s nine teams. Only Evansville has no players taller than Pierre. Despite this, she leads the conference in rebounds by 79.

Pierre said she tries to use her opponents’ size against them.

“You’ve got to know where they are,” Pierre said. “You’ve got to get in front of them so if they do get to the ball, you’ll get a foul called on them.”

Pierre said the key to her rebounding ability is her mentality.

“I just assume it’s a miss,” Pierre said. “I have a good eye for the ball and I just know where it’s going”

Pierre recorded her 36th career double-double Sunday against Wichita State. She is SIU’s all-time leader in that category and sixth all-time in MVC history.

Pierre has picked up seven double-doubles in the Salukis’ last eight games. She averaged 15.3 points and 16.5 rebounds during SIU’s six-game winning streak from Jan. 30 to Feb 15.

SIU coach Cindy Stein said one of the keys to Pierre’s dominance is her laid back attitude.

“There have been times where I’ve chewed her out, and she just brushes it off,” Stein said. “Nothing bothers her.”

Pierre faces double-teams on a nightly basis and averages 2.7 personal fouls per game. Rather than let those things bother her, Pierre brushes them aside and keeps playing her game. She said that was not always how she handled them.

“It used to be really frustrating,” Pierre said. “But now I see how the game goes and the referees and I try not to let it get to me and play through it.”

Her growth has influenced her practices as well.

Freshman center Celina Van Hyfte said playing against Pierre in practice every day has made her a better basketball player.

“There’s a lot that I’ve learned from her,” Van Hyfte said. “It’s nearly impossible to guard her during practice, so I’ve had to up my game to make her better, which is very hard to do.”

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269.

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