Women’s basketball falls to UNI in senior day showdown, 76-67

By Tamar Mosby, Sports Reporter

SIU Women’s basketball played their last home game of the season this afternoon against the University of Northern Iowa Panthers losing the game, 76-67.

“Our kids played hard,” said Cindy Stein, Southern Illinois head coach. “We didn’t play very well. I have to give Northern Iowa a lot of credit for that.”

The Panthers were led to this victory on a 28 point performance by sophomore guard Karli Rucker.

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“Rucker was tough to handle,” Stein said. “They probably ran her off of every kind of screen you can do.She played terrific today and she was tough for us to stop.”

Not only was this the final home game of the season for SIU, it was senior night.

At the beginning of the match up game the Dawgs honored three seniors on their team. These ladies were Kezia Martin, Celina Van Hyfte and Tiajaney Hawkins.

Entering tonight’s game, Southern was looking to shake a loss from UNI’s Iowa rivals – Drake University. The Panthers also entered the match up on a loss after falling to Missouri State on Friday.

This afternoon’s game marked the 74th meeting of the teams with UNI holding a 39-34 advantage over the Salukis in the all-time series with another win being added to the Panther column after today.

After winning the tip, the Panthers scored two straight baskets on SIU to take an early lead.

While the Salukis could get to the basket for layups, UNI had an answer for each one only furthering their lead.

“We got off to a really slow start and just never really got going,” Stein said.

A layup by junior guard Brittney Patrick put Southern within two points of their opponents with the score at 8-6.

Patrick had nine points and four assists by the end of the night, but fouled out of the game with just 30 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

After scoring the basket, Patrick committed a foul and this gave the Panthers another two points off of free throws.

The Dawgs continued to fight and on the next possession they were able to get to the foul line and make one of two shots through sophomore forward Abby Brockmeyer. After these free throws, Patrick came down the floor for SIU again to score a short jumper and make it a one point game.

Two straight baskets from UNI allowed them to get a small amount of distance from the Dawgs, but sophomore guard Makenzie Silvey made an attempt to close it as she came down the floor to score a running right hand layup. Silvey finished with 15 points.

The period ended on a Panther three pointer left the score at 17-11 with the Dawgs trailing by six.

The second period began on another pair of Brockmeyer free throws where she went two for two from the line.

Immediately after Brockmeyer’s free throws, Panther center Taylor Hagan scored two back-to-back layups putting her individual score at eight points and the score of the game at 21-13.

Hagan scored 13 points and grabbed four rebounds in tonight’s game.

After two scoreless minutes on both ends, Saluki junior forward Nicole Martin got an offensive putback to relieve the drought. After Martin made the shot, Patrick got to the line to make two free throws putting the score at 21-17.

The SIU defense continued to hold the Panthers at 21 and forced a turnover which converted into another layup from Martin. This layup made it a two point game.

After going nearly six minutes without scoring UNI made two consecutive jumpers to push the score to 26-19 and their lead to seven.

Martin and Silvey each scored layups for SIU to keep their team in the game but the Dawgs had no answer for Rucker of UNI who subbed in the game and immediately drained a three pointer.

While Patrick was able to drain her own three pointer, Rucker sounded off again scoring another three to get her 10th point of the game and put the score at 32-26 entering halftime.

Just 20 seconds into the second half Silvey drained a quick three pointer for Southern to make it 32-29, but Rucker proved she still had the same hot hand from the first half as she drained another three pointer to respond.

After a pair of free throws were made on both ends of the floor, SIU junior forward Lauren Hartman scored a layup in the lane to keep her team within four.

Just as the Dawgs edged in on the Panthers, Rucker drained her fourth three pointer of the night to put her at 4-5 (80%) from the three point line.

“Anytime they got an open shot they hit it,” Stein said. “We didn’t do what we wanted to defensively.”

While the Panthers lit up the arc, the Dawgs found their rhythm in the paint as Brockmeyer scored a hook shot in the middle of the lane putting the score at 40-35.

A three point play and a layup from UNI extended the Iowa team’s lead to 45-35 and started to discourage ideas of an SIU comeback.

The Panthers continued to answer every bucket the Salukis scored and another UNI three pointer extended the lead to 12.

“We couldn’t hit a lot of shot today,” Stein said. “We shot well at the free throw line which has been our goal, but we didn’t get enough defensive stops.”

Despite the double digit lead the Panthers held over them, the Dawgs continued to attack their opponents offense scoring three straight baskets to make the score 50-44.

Another pair of Brockmeyer free throws diminished the Panther lead to just four points.

Brockmeyer led Southern tonight with a double-double which consisted of 17 points and 13 rebounds.

Two Northern Iowa baskets, one of them being another three pointer from Rucker, pushed the lead back up to nine points at 56-47 entering the final quarter.

The fourth quarter began with another three point jumper from Rucker and a layup in response from Silvey. These baskets set the score at 59-49 with Southern trailing by 10.

Two free throws from Martin cut the lead down to eight, but a pair from the Panthers just seconds later had it at 10 again.

SIU continued to fight and cut the lead down as they scored two consecutive baskets to put the score within seven.

An offensive rebound from Brockmeyer put her at the line again with 1:40 on the clock. The sophomore made both of her free throws to make it a five point game at 66-61.

With the Dawgs forced to foul at the end, the Panthers made two free throws to push the lead up, but Martin was able to put SIU within five again as she scored a reverse layup under the basket.

Free throws continued to push the Northern Iowa lead up and Southern started to run out of responses for their rivals.

After another good pair of free throws from UNI, Martin made a short jump shot, but this was not enough to relieve the large deficit created by the Panthers’ fourth quarter free throws.

Martin led the team in scoring with 18 total points. Twelve of Martin’s 18 were scored in the second half.  

The Panther’s held onto the ball in the final seconds of the game to seal a 76-67 win over Southern.

“We just have to gather ourselves because we have a big weekend ahead,” Stein said. “We can’t mope too much about this loss. We just have to keep moving on.”

The Salukis will be back in action next Thursday in Terre Haute, Indiana as they take on the Indiana State Sycamores at 6 p.m.

Sports reporter Tamar Mosby can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @mosbytamar.

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