Southern’s performance lands them home-opener win

By Brooke Buerck, Sports Reporter

Fans, Saluki dogs and even Cinderella flocked to seats of the Banterra Center on Saturday for Saluki women’s basketball’s Princesses and Superheroes-themed home opener against Tennessee Tech. 

The Salukis (2-1) handed the Golden Eagles (2-1) their first loss of the season with a 76-65 victory at Banterra Center.

Southern held the lead for nearly the entire game aside from two occasions, and outscored the Golden Eagles in all but the third quarter. 

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“For the most part, we played really solid defense. I felt like in the third quarter we relaxed too much. I think 17 of their 20 points were from the freethrow line, and that can’t happen,” head coach Cindy Stein said. “When our rotations are moving and we’re locked in the entire time, we do a good job.”

SIU took care of business on both ends of the court, shooting at 40% from the field while pulling down a total of 46 rebounds as a group, 17 of which were offensive. 

“Abby on the boards, Nicole, Gabby…we feel like we’ve got a good group that can attack the boards. They knew that we needed to finish out the game,” Stein said. “[Brittney Patrick has been a great rebounder in her career, [and] coming up with nine today was really solid.” 

Senior forward Nicole Martin said Stein emphasized rebounding after one of the team’s early timeouts, and the Salukis were able to implement that on the court. 

Southern headed into halftime with the 36-25 lead after fending off the Golden Eagles early on.

Tennessee found their first lead of the game following two three-point baskets in a row coming from junior guard Jordan Brock, forcing Southern into the timeout call while down 20-19. 

Brock would finish the game 4-5 from three-point range, totalling 16 points to lead the Golden Eagles.

Junior forward Abby Brockmeyer helped SIU regain their lead with the three-point play, sinking the offensive rebound putback while drawing the foul and adding the free throw make to it.

Brockmeyer scored on Southern’s next two trips down the court as well, sinking the layup and another offensive rebound to give SIU the 27-21 lead. She finished the night with 13 points altogether.

Following the half Southern struggled defensively. Southern had 10 personal fouls in the third quarter to Tennessee’s four in the frame. 

The Golden Eagles used the free throw opportunities and went 10-17 from the line, with freshman guard Maaliya Owens finishing 4-5. Owens finished with a total of 12 points. 

A strong performance from SIU’s post, however, proved to be the deciding factor in the game, as 13 of Martin’s 19 points fell in the third quarter. 

“We always find each other in the post,” Brockmeyer said about Martin. “She gets open, she finishes […] if we can get the ball to her, most of the time she’s going to score. She was just there, and she played hard.”

Junior forward Gabby Walker proved herself to be a threat down low as well, finishing the game out with 12 points and two boards. 

“Gabby’s been really solid,” Stein said. “We’ve got a good rotation there.”

Martin said having players like Walker and junior forward Awa Keita helps out the team greatly. 

“Last year, […] it would be a little nerve wracking when me and Abby got subbed out, whereas this year, if Awa and Gabby go in we’re at peace because we know they can do the same things,” Martin said.

The Salukis also saw improvement in tonight’s game at the charity stripe, finishing 14-18 and 8-9 in the fourth quarter alone. 

“Last year we weren’t very efficient at the free throw line, and that’s what lost us a lot of games,” Brockmeyer said. “I think coming around this year, that’s something we’ve really focused on.”

All of the Saluki bench saw minutes on the court today. 

The Salukis will take their home court again on Nov. 20 against the University of Memphis Tigers. Tipoff is set for noon at Banterra Center.

Sports reporter Brooke Buerck can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @bbuerck25.

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