Salukis drop season series to Evansville

Senior+forward+Kim+Nebo+wipes+sweat+from+her+face+during+the+Salukis+74-61+loss+to+Evansville+Purple+Aces+on+Friday%2C+Feb.+17%2C+2017%2C+at+the+SIU+Arena.+%28Bill+Lukitsch+%7C+%40lukitsbill%29

Senior forward Kim Nebo wipes sweat from her face during the Salukis’ 74-61 loss to Evansville Purple Aces on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, at the SIU Arena. (Bill Lukitsch | @lukitsbill)

By Jonathan Thompson

SIU women’s basketball didn’t lead once Friday night during its 74-61 loss to Evansville.

The Aces’ hot shooting got them an early advantage as Evansville made two 3-pointers back-to-back, giving them an early lead.

They shot 62 percent from behind the arc in the first quarter.

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Senior forward Kim Nebo got the Salukis in the scoring column with a layup assisted by junior guard Kylie Giebelhaussen, making the score 6-2.

SIU stopped the Aces from scoring and Giebelhaussen made a 3-pointer, bringing the score to 6-5.

After her basket, Evansville continued to light it up from deep by making two more 3-pointers, giving them a 12-5 advantage.

The Aces 9-16 (4-10 Missouri Valley Conference) maintained the lead for the remaining time in the quarter — giving them a 19-14 advantage going into the second.

The Salukis were first to score in the second quarter as freshmen forward Tiajaney Hawkins made a jumpshot.

After the teams traded baskets for a couple of plays, Evansville went on a 6-0 run to give them a 10 point advantage.

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A jumpshot by freshmen forward Nicole Martin stopped the run, making the score 28-20.

After her basket, the teams got into a 3-point shooting contest sparked by senior guard Sara Dickey.

Evansville hit two 3-pointers back-to-back but SIU responded and hit two of their own making the score 34-26.

The teams battled for the remainder of the quarter, but the Aces’ lead never fell beneath eight points. They led 38-26 going into halftime.

The Saukis 12-13 (6-8 MVC) had three players score in double-digits — Giebelhaussen (15), Nebo (15), and senior guard Rishonda Napier (12).

Napier is the Salukis’ leading scorer, averaging 14 points per game. She struggled Friday, making on three of her 14 attempts (21.4 percent).

The third quarter was more of the same as SIU couldn’t make a dent into Evansville lead.

After a 5-0 run capped of by a 3-pointer by Dickey, the Aces pushed their lead out to 15 with 6:28 remaining.

Evansville stayed consistent and went into the fourth quarter with a 59-45 advantage.

“To put it simply, we didn’t play hard enough,” Napier said of her teams performance.

Freshman guard Kristen Nelson prepares for a free throw on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, during a game against the Evansville Aces at SIU Arena. The Salukis lost to the Evansville Aces 74-61. (Bill Lukitsch | @lukitsbill)

The Aces were lights out from beyond the 3-point arc shooting 13-25 (52.5 percent) for the game.

Sophomore forward Kerri Gasper made a 3-pointer for the first made field goal of the second half, extending the Aces’ lead out to 16.

SIU showed some signs of life by going on a 9-0 run, cutting the deficit to just seven with 6:46 on the clock.

Dickey played the role of crowd silencer by making another 3-pointer in response to the run.

“You don’t leave [Dickey],” coach Cindy Stien said. “We kept leaving her. I don’t know how that happens. I think that kid had 28 points on us and that’s a kid we weren’t supposed to leave. Those kind of mistakes.. they can’t happen, we’ve got to do a better job.”

Dickey finished with 28 points and three rebounds.

Freshman guard Kristen Nelson is guarded by Aces senior forward Sasha Robinson on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, during a game against the Evansville Aces at SIU Arena. The Salukis lost to the Edwardsville Aces 74-61. (Bill Lukitsch | @lukitsbill)

Dickey’s 3-pointer sparked an 8-0 run that put the lead back up to 15 with 2:36 left in the game.

That would be the final nail in the coffin as Evansville cruised to a 74-61 victory.

“We played really flat,” Stein said. “[We] can’t blame it on youth. At this time of year you have to find a way to dig down and make it happen and unfortunately we did not.”

The Salukis play their next game at 6 p.m. on Feb. 24 against Illinois State at SIU Arena.

Staff writer Jonathan Thompson can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @TheReal_Jt3.

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