SIU women’s basketball completes comeback, upsets Northern Iowa


Members of the Saluki women’s basketball team celebrate after a basket Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017, during SIU’s 64-59 win against Northern Iowa at SIU Arena. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

By Sean Carley

Two days after dropping a game against Drake, the Missouri Valley Conference leader which SIU coach Cindy Stein called “ripe for the picking,” Saluki women’s basketball upset UNI 64-59.

SIU shot 59.3 percent in the second to erase a 15-point deficit before handing Northern Iowa its second Valley loss of the season.

“We came out [of halftime] with more intensity and more urgency,” senior guard Rishonda Napier said. “We just had to make a decision that we were going to grind down and get it.”


After scoring just 21 points in the first half, Southern came back with a vengeance, scoring 22 and 21 points in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.

Napier and freshman forward Nicole Martin spearheaded the charge, each scoring 10 points after halftime. Overall, four Salukis — Napier, Martin, senior forward Kim Nebo and junior guard Kylie Giebelhausen — finished in double-figures.

Nebo earned her third straight double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

SIU also received big contributions from its bench, finishing with what Stein called “a total team win.”

“Everybody stepped up,” she said. “Whether it was [Lauren] Hartman getting a putback at the right time, Caitlyn Claussen coming in and bringing great energy, whether it was Kylie hitting a shot or Nicole Martin running the floor hard or Kim Nebo starting us off in the second half. We were very balanced and that’s what we wanted to be.”

Southern shot fairly well in the first half (42.9 percent) but its nine turnovers coupled with the hot hand of UNI senior guard Madison Weekly led to the large early lead for the Panthers.


Weekly hit four of her six shots from behind-the-arc in the first half, eventually finishing with a game-high 19 points. UNI also scored nine points off Saluki turnovers in the first half.

“Our first half, there was some really ugly possessions on our part,” Stein said. “We were so unsure of ourselves. We got in some foul trouble and had some kids out on the floor that haven’t had a lot of time, so it’s not necessarily their fault.”

SIU’s key to success in its comeback was pounding the interior and getting close looks at the basket.

The Salukis outscored UNI 26-8 in the paint in the second half, leaving the team that shoots an average of 22 3-pointers per game only attempting eight on Sunday.

“They were taking the three away from us,” Stein said. “We’re pretty good at midrange jumpers and that’s what they gave us. More importantly, we wanted to get the ball inside, whether it was with a drive or a pass.”

Napier said this win now serves as evidence that her team can compete with anyone in the league and is a confidence boost looking toward postseason play.

“It’s huge for our confidence now that we see we’re right up there with the best of the best, just to know we can compete, and not only compete, we can win,” she said. “When March rolls around and its tournament time, if we see those guys again we know for a fact that we can beat them.”

After facing the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the conference, SIU will face No. 3 Missouri State at 7 p.m. Friday and No. 4 Wichita State at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Staff writer Sean Carley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @SeanMCarley.

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