CARBONDALE — The bad news is the Saluki women turned the ball over 25 times.
The good news is they piled up 44 rebounds, 22 assists, 10 steals, put five players in double figures and shot 55.6 percent in a 89-41 exhibition win over Kentucky Wesleyan. And, they did it without Tiajaney Hawkins, Olivia Bowling and Caitlyn Claussen, all of whom saw considerable playing time last year.
Kylie Giebelhausen, the lone senior on the team, scored an efficient 22 points, hitting 8-of-10 shots from the floor and both her free throws. She added nine rebounds, six assists, a steal and a blocked shot in her first game as undisputed team leader.
“It started off slow for me, I think I was more looking toward controlling the court, making sure everybody was in the swing of things,” she said. “I didn’t want to take quick shots and throw off the offense. We just needed them to get into the flow of the offense and moving a little more.
“Then, once we got the swing of things down, I got a little more aggressive. That second half, was a little stronger on the offensive end. I felt like I could pick it up. Everybody else was much more of a threat. That opened me up a little bit.”
“I was worried at the half, I didn’t feel like we were giving Kylie the ball enough,” said SIU coach Cindy Stein. “But, Kylie took care of that. She started looking for her shot more, to be a little more assertive to get us off to a good start, which she probably should have done from the beginning because I felt there was a lot of pressure for someone to score. It’s a learning process for her too with all these kids.”
Despite SIU’s youth, the outcome of the game was never in doubt.
The Salukis bolted to a quick 11-3 lead on buckets by Giebelhausen, Nicole Martin, and freshman Abby Brockmeyer. Giebelhausen capped first quarter scoring with a drive down the lane to put SIU on top 18-6.
The game marked the debut of three freshmen – Brockmeyer, Makenzie Silvey and Rachel Pudlowski. Brockmeyer and Silvey started.
Brockmeyer finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots. Silver had 13 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals.
“I thought they stepped up,” Gielbelhausen said. “I think it was a different change of pace from high school. They started off a little bit nervous. I think they can improve upon that, the whole team can actually. But, I think once they got the hang of things they did really well. Abby shot well, posted up well. Mak shot well from beyond the arc. And, Rachel is just aggressive out there.”
“I think they did probably A-minus,” Stein said. “Offensively, I feel they do really good things. We’re a work in progress on the defensive end. I think Rachel finally settled down, she kind of got out there and tried too hard.”
After pushing the lead to 16 points several times in the second quarter, Kentucky Wesleyan cut the deficit to 12 points with 3:55 left in the half. Stein called time out to regroup, and SIU closed the half on an 11-2 run and a 41-19 lead.
The lead ballooned to 30 midway through the third quarter when Silvey hit an open trey and Brittney Patrick hit a runner in the lane.
“I think the only disappointment I came away with, I felt like we shared the ball really well, but we shared it a lot with them as well,” Stein said. “Twenty-five turnovers I feel is way too much. We try to keep it around 12. That’s something we’ll have to continually work on, especially with young kids.”
In addition to Gielbelhausen’s team-leading 22 points, SIU got 13 points from Silvey and Martin and 10 from Brockmeyer and Ashley Hummel.
The Salukis return to action at 6 p.m. Friday, playing host to Lindenwood.
The open regular season play the following Friday at home against UT-Martin.