SIU women’s basketball gave seniors a last hurrah at SIU Arena when the Salukis beat Bradley 69-63 during their last home game of the season.
All three of SIU’s seniors reached double digits in scoring Sunday afternoon — guard Rishonda Napier had 10 points and seven assists, forward Carlie Corrigan scored 15 and forward Kim Nebo had a double-double by scoring 14 points and grabbing four boards.
“I felt like our seniors were ready to play,” coach Cindy Stein said. “They really helped lead the way … It’s pretty much just great leadership by them that really pulled us through.”
After leading by as much as 16 easy on, the game got tight in the final minutes.
Bradley went on first a 7-0 run, then a 5-0 run capped off by a 3-pointer by senior forward Leti Lerma, making the score 63-60 with 44 seconds remaining.
The Braves fouled Southern twice and made both pairs of free throws — junior guard Danielle Brewer made another 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining.
That was too little to late as Corrigan made two more free throws for SIU, sealing a 69-63 win.
“They were going to do everything they can to get back into this game,” Stein said.
Lerma finished with 22 points and six rebounds.
Junior guard Kylie Giebelhausen scored the first baskets of the game for the Salukis, an and-one layup that put SIU up by three.
SIU (14-13, 9-8 MVC) controlled the game in the first quarter, only trailing once in its entirety. They went in to the second with a 23-16 advantage.
Southern continued its success in the second as they pushed their lead to 11 when senior forward Corrigan made a 3-pointer, making the score 31-20.
Corrigan’s 3-pointer also sparked a 6-0 run that put SIU firmly in control of the game.
Bradley (10-18, 6-11 MVC) showed some fight and cut the deficit to just eight points after freshmen forward Chelsea Brackman split a pair of free throws late.
But thanks to a free throw made by Giebelhausen and a midrange jumper by Napier, the Salukis went into halftime with a 41-30 advantage.
“We battled,” Stein said. “I think that’s the biggest thing, and they make you battle. If you don’t battle they’re going to take over.”
At the start of the third, teams traded baskets until Bradly went on a 5-0 run — cutting the deficit to just six.
But then Nebo got a big offensive rebound and scored immediately, which stopped the run and started a 4-0 run by the Salukis.
The rest of the quarter was a boxing match as the teams scored back and forth. SIU went into the fourth with a 43-33 advantage.
The Salukis play their next game at 6 p.m. Thursday against Indiana State in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Staff writer Jonathan Thompson can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @TheReal_Jt3.
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