SIU women’s basketball earns Compass Challenge title for second straight year

By Tamar Mosby, Brooke Buerck, Sports Writers

The Salukis women’s basketball team dominated the floor in Dekalb, Illinois this weekend to defend their Compass Challenge title.

The Compass Challenge is an inaugural tournament that includes participating teams from every region of the state. 

The teams playing in this tournament include Northern Illinois University, Western Illinois University, Eastern Illinois University and Southern Illinois University.

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In last year’s tournament, the Salukis defeated Eastern and Northern Illinois in the Banterra Center to earn the Compass Challenge title.

This year, Southern faced off against state rivals Western and Northern Illinois in the tournament, sweeping both teams to leave the weekend with a two-game winning streak.

On Thursday, the Salukis used their fourth quarter performance to push past the Western Illinois University Fighting Leathernecks for a 79-65 victory. 

Southern was 13-30 from the three point line and overall shot at 46%, which helped them grab their first win of the Compass Challenge.

The Salukis were tied with the Fighting Leathernecks (6-7) headed into the fourth before a 23-9 SIU scoring run finished out the game. 

Four Saluki players were in double digits on the scoring end, including senior guard Kristen Nelson (15), junior guard Mackenzie Silvey (15), junior forward Abby Brockmeyer (13) and senior forward Nicole Martin (11).  

Nelson was 4-10 from the three point range, and both Silvey and sophomore guard Payton McCallister had three three-pointers. 

For Western Illinois, sophomore forward Evan Zars led with 13 points, and both sophomore guard Danni Nichols and junior guard Sam Pryor added 10 each.

On Friday, The Salukis took down tournament host NIU for their final game of the Challenge with a 80-61 victory.

The teams met last season’s Compass Challenge where Southern handed the Huskies a 82-73 loss to kick off the tournament.

In this game, SIU was led by Silvey, who scored 14 points to go along with three rebounds, and junior forward Gabby Walker, who tallied 12 points and eight rebounds, which put her just two rebounds shy of earning a double-double.

Southern finished on a 49.3 shooting percentage from the field, while the Huskies finished with a 38.2 shooting percentage.

For NIU, senior guards Courtney Woods and Myia Starks led the way in scoring with Woods tallying 11 points and Starks tallying 13. The two seniors each added three rebounds onto their final stats as well.

Compared to their hard fought battle against Western Illinois, SIU’s Friday match up against the Huskies (4-6) went smoothly as the Salukis took off with the lead after a strong first quarter performance.

Southern scored 25 first quarter points and had a 15 point lead over Northern Illinois at the beginning of the second period.

At the halftime mark, the Salukis had extended their commanding lead over the Huskies to 20 points.

From there, SIU refused to let up and kept a strong lead for the remainder of the game finishing the game going 10-13 (75%) in the fourth quarter.

Southern (8-3) will return to the Banterra Center on Dec. 29 to take on William Woods University for its final game of the year. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.

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

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

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