SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Southern Illinois women's basketball team dropped a 68-57 decision to the University at Albany on Tuesday afternoon in it's opening game of the Puerto Rico Classic.
The Salukis trailed by just two at the end of the first quarter, but Albany used a 10-3 run to build a nine-point advantage at the end of the first half. The Salukis cut the deficit to five, 52-47, on a pair of free throws by Nicole Martin with 6:40 remaining in regulation but that was as close as they could get.
The Salukis (5-5) had a difficult time acclimating to the conditions within Coliseo Ruben Mayas Montanez, as the lack of multiple air conditioning units made for a warm environment. Southern turned the ball over 21 times and shot 36.7% (18-of-49) from the floor, including 20% (3-of-15) from three-point range. The Great Danes, who have made six-straight NCAA Tournament appearances, pulled away in the final 20 minutes of regulation behind 16 second half points from Jessica Fequiere.
Southern was led in scoring by Nicole Martin, who finished with a career-high 20 points to go along with four rebounds, a block and a steal. 10 of Martin's 20 points came at the foul line, as the Missouri Valley Conference leader in free throw attempts went 10-for-13 at the charity stripe.
Kylie Giebelhausen finished with nine points and six rebounds while Makenzie Silvey had seven points and Rachel Pudlowski chipped in six points in 11 minutes off the bench.
Albany's Jessica Fequiere finished with a game-high 25 points and was one of two Great Danes to score in double figures.
The Salukis conclude play at the Puerto Rico Classic today against the University of Miami Hurricanes. SIU was originally slated to take on Kennesaw State, but the Owls were unable to make the trip due to the power outage at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport.