Salukis storm back in second half to pick up road win

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

The SIU women’s basketball team came out flat Friday night at Evansville, but fought back to win its fifth-straight game

With the 62-53 win, the Salukis (14-9, 7-5) remain in fourth place in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Purple Aces (10-13, 5-7) remain in seventh.

Freshman guard Kylie Giebelhausen kept SIU in the game early. Her 4 3-pointers accounted for half the Salukis’ points through the first period. Sophomore guard Sara Dickey led Evansville with 15 in the first half.

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The Purple Aces led 26-24 at halftime after a 5-0 SIU run cut into their lead. Junior center Dyana Pierre had 9 rebounds at halftime, but Evansville kept her off the scoreboard for the game’s first 19:30.

Sophomore point guard Rishonda Napier provided a spark for the Salukis in the second half. After being held scoreless in the first half, she finished the game with 13 points and had 2 steals to help hold off the Purple Aces.

Dickey improved on her impressive first half, adding 17 in the second frame to finish with a game-high 32 points. She got little help from her teammates, as the next-highest scorer, senior guard Kat Taylor provided only 9 points. 

SIU coach Cindy Stein lamented the fact Dickey has two years of eligibility remaining.

“She’s a nightmare,” Stein said. “I would pay for her to graduate early. She’s a fantastic player. We were just trying to keep the ball out of her hands as much as possible.”

Giebelhausen led the Salukis with 15 points, all coming from beyond the arc. She said she knocked down her shots without thinking.

“If I have a clear mind, I shoot better,” Giebelhausen said. “The first shot gave me confidence for the rest of the game.”

Pierre scored 14 and hauled in 15 rebounds. The reigning MVC Player of the Week has had a double-double and at least 14 rebounds in every game of the Salukis’ five-game win streak.

Junior forward Azia Washington battled more than just the five Aces on the floor. The air conditioning in the Ford Center aggravated her asthma, and she finished with 4 points. Washington entered the game averaging 10.7 points per game.

Senior guard Mercedes Griffin provided lockdown defense on Dickey during stretches of the second half, blocking one of Dickey’s shots and coming up with a steal that lead to a bucket on the other end of the floor.

Griffin said the comeback win was important to keep building the Salukis’ momentum.

“It’s a hard thing to do, to win five conference games in a row,” Griffin said. “We’re just trying to keep it rolling.”

The Salukis play the Indiana State Sycamores (16-7, 6-6) at 1:05 p.m. Sunday in Terre Haute, Ind.

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

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