Illinois State shuts down Salukis 62-54

By Brooke Buerck, Sports Reporter

Southern Illinois women’s basketball looked to recover from a 13-point deficit in their last five minutes of play, but couldn’t get past Illinois State’s defense in enough time for the win.

The Redbirds (13-6, 5-3 MVC) used an 8-0 run to start off the fourth quarter that allowed them to take the 62-54 win over the Salukis (12-7, 4-4 MVC) at Banterra Center on Jan. 31. 

“That was a tough one to lose. As I told our team, I’m not discouraged by us. I think we played hard, I think the details got away from us today, and that’s where we’ve got to continue to get better,” Saluki head coach Cindy Stein said. “I thought defensively we were doing everything we [could] to hold them, but rebounding was an issue with us not grabbing the ball […] and those little details are so important.”

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ISU outrebounded Southern 38-27, and junior forward Gabby Walker attributed this to her team rushing the ball. 

“I think we were just moving a little too fast, so instead of focusing on just catching the ball and then moving onto the next thing, we were already moving onto the next thing before we could even get our hands on the ball,” Walker said. 

The Salukis led 15-12 in the first quarter and kept that lead headed into halftime with the 27-25 advantage. 

The Salukis held a tight 27-25 lead headed into the locker room at halftime after shooting 11-for-26 from the field.

Illinois State opened up the second half to outscore Southern 19-15 in the third quarter, and led 44-42 headed into the final 10 minutes of play.

ISU’s senior guard Tete Maggett and freshman guard Mary Crompton both hit a 3-point basket in the third quarter that helped the Redbirds surge ahead to take the lead. 

An 8-point run to start off the fourth quarter gave Illinois State a 10-point lead to build off of, with  junior forward Juliunn Redmond putting up a layup and two free throws. 

“Everything kind of went in a blur. We had a couple of blips in our defense that gave them a lead and we just [weren’t] able to fight back,” Walker said. “They were physical, [but] I don’t think that it wasn’t that we couldn’t fight back, I think it was just having a little trouble adjusting and then [running] out of time to fight back. We figured it out a little late and it just was too late.”

ISU extended their lead to 57-44, their largest of the game, but Southern continued to battle their way back into the game with minutes ticking off the clock. 

With an 8-0 run sparked by two layups by Patrick, the Salukis were able to decrease their deficit to only five, but couldn’t make their way through Redbird defense enough to find the final push they needed.

“A lot of things just didn’t go our way. The ball just kept bouncing around out there and we weren’t the ones grabbing it,” Stein said. “We just couldn’t get a break.”

Walker led the Salukis in scoring with 14 points, and she said putting in extra work on her post moves allowed her to see the ball go in more today.

“My post coaches and Coach Stein had told me I probably need to work on my post moves a little bit more, so I’ve been putting in extra work,” Walker said. “So I think just because I’ve been getting more reps in my post moves that I was more confident and [things] just seemed to follow better because of practice.”

Junior guard Makenzie Silvey was Southern’s other player with double-digit points, as she put up 11.

For the Redbirds, four athletes finished with 10 or more points, including Maggett (11), Crompton (12), Redmond (15), and senior forward Lexi Wallen (10). 

Maggett, Redmond, and Wallen also led Illinois State in rebounding, with Maggett and Redmond each having six while Wallen had five boards.

“I think that Wallen does a great job, she’s all over the place. You can tell she’s a volleyball player, she’s quick off the floor and a great athlete,” Stein said. “She got Gabby on a call a couple of times, Nicole on a call a couple of times, and we talked about [how] that’s kind of what she does and we’ve got to be smart.” 

While Illinois State went 20-for-52 shooting-wise, including going 5-for-13 from 3-point range, SIU struggled to put the ball in from the long range. 

Patrick and sophomore guard Payton McAllister were the only two Salukis who made 3-point baskets for the night, each having one apiece.

“I think we’re better shooters than that, but you’ve got to give Illinois State credit. [They’re] a good defensive team, they rush you pretty quick […and] and I think there were they rushed some of our shots and there were other times where we weren’t ready to shoot,” Stein said. 

Southern will be back at Banterra Center on Feb. 2 for a matchup against Bradley University, whom the Salukis have not yet faced this season. 

“Really [zoning] in on our details on defense [and…] focusing on running our offensive plays to the point that coach wants us to… everything comes down to the details, so if we just focus on those [for Sunday] we should be fine,” Gabby Walker.

Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.

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

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