Salukis knock off Valley’s top dogs

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

SIU women’s basketball pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the Missouri Valley Conference season Friday night.

The Salukis (12-9, 5-5) defeated Drake (14-7, 9-1), 81-76 in a tightly-contested game at SIU Arena.

Drake entered the game in first place in the MVC and boasting the conference’s leading scorer, sophomore guard Lizzy Wendell.


Wendell went to zero to 100 in the first half, hitting her first 4 three-pointers, as Drake jumped out to a 12-4 lead.

SIU sophomore guard Rishonda Napier and junior forward Azia Washington fueled the catch up for SIU. Both teams went back and forth for the majority of the first period. Napier finished the first half with 17 points.

Wendell had 18 first-half points. The Bulldogs held a 40-39 lead at halftime.

The second half was as tight as the first. The Salukis had 13 second-half points from Napier and 11 from junior forward Dyana Pierre to keep up with the Bulldogs.

Drake led by 6 points with 5:55 left to play after an 8-0 run.

SIU fought back and took a 75-71 lead on a deep three-point shot by freshman guard Kylie Giebelhausen with 28 seconds remaining, sending Drake into foul mode.


The Salukis iced the game from the free throw line to win their third straight game.

Napier, who finished with a game-high 30 points, said SIU thrives on the kind of situations it faced Friday.

“We love these types of games,” she said. “We’re all fierce competitors. We love getting out there and scrapping and competing. As players, these are the games we love the most.”

Coach Cindy Stein said while this was a big win, the Salukis have bigger games in the near future.

“We have too many games left to call this a statement game,” Stein said. “I hope that we can control our home floor like this. It’s hard to say it’s a statement game yet. We’ve got to see where all the pieces fall.”

Wendell led Drake with 27 points.

Pierre recorded her third straight double-double with a game-high 14 rebounds and 17 points.

The Salukis’ next game is against Northern Iowa Panthers (12-9, 8-2) at 2:05 p.m. Sunday at SIU Arena.

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter @TdonleyDE or 536-3311 ext. 269.