The SIU women’s basketball team fell to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (5-3) in Sunday afternoon’s matchup 75-49.
Western Kentucky led the all-time series against the Salukis with seven victories in 13 contests. SIU’s last win against WKU came at home in December of 1989.
Southern’s bench once again played a major role in the contest and scored 27 of the Salukis’ 49 points.
“I am impressed with our bench,” said head coach Cindy Stein. “We have a lot of pieces and we have to have people step up.”
The Hilltoppers started the contest in a full-court press that earned them back to back steals and a quick 4-0 lead.
SIU clawed its way back into the game and went on a 14-6 run. Senior guard Kylie Giebelhausen recorded eight points in that period and earned Southern a 14-10 lead.
WKU owned the court for the remainder of the quarter and finished the first frame with a 21-18 lead.
The Hilltoppers’ press forced eight Saluki turnovers, all off steals, and scored ten points off of SIU’s mistakes.
“We had to figure out what passes we could get away with,” said Giebelhausen. “They had active arms and hands.”
Western Kentucky entered the second quarter with the same momentum it gained in the first. A 10-1 run for the Hilltoppers extended the lead to 31-19.
Freshman guard Makenzie Silvey put up seven points in the quarter which helped Southern cut the WKU lead to 38-30 at halftime.
The Salukis were out-rebounded 26-18 in the first half and allowed 15 offensive rebounds to the Hilltoppers. The second-chance points for WKU diminished multiple defensive stands that Southern pieced together.
“We didn’t box out,” said Giebelhausen. “They kept pursuing the ball while we thought it would just land in our hands.”
WKU established its dominance early in the third period and put together an 18-3 run with the first nine points via 3-pointers.
“We had hands in their face,” said Stein. “They kept knocking them down. There’s not many teams that can shoot like that and you have to give them credit.”
Western Kentucky maintained its lead for the remainder of the quarter and held a 62-38 advantage through three frames.
Southern had no answer for the Hilltoppers in the final quarter as WKU padded its lead and won 75-49.
Up next, the Salukis (5-4) will head to the San Juan Tournament in Puerto Rico on Dec. 19 to take on the University at Albany. Tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Sports reporter Dillon Gilliland can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @DillonGilliland.
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