EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Freshman Abby Brockmeyer recorded career-bests in points, rebounds and steals to help lead the Southern Illinois women's basketball team to a 74-62 win over the Evansville Purple Aces in the Missouri Valley Conference opener for both teams.

The Salukis (6-6, 1-0 MVC), built a 13-point lead in the first half and closed the contest on a 14-2 run, punctuated by a pair of three-pointers by Kristen Nelson that all but sealed the win for Southern. It marks the fifth-straight season in which the Salukis have won their conference opener under head coach Cindy Stein.

"I can't say enough about how hard this team works," said Stein. "I don't think we've played as well as we can, but I'm really excited about how hard we play. We play hard, stick together and we pick each other up when we are down. It's a fun group to coach."

SIU turned the ball over a season-low nine times and forced Evansville to turn the ball over 21 times.

"We definitely took good care of the basketball," Stein said. "Like I tell our team, I'd rather have a missed shot then a turnover so if all else fails, shoot. I think our guards did a great job."

The Purple Aces (3-9, 0-1 MVC) got back into the game during a third quarter in which they knocked down 8-of-14 attempts (57.1%) to cut SIU's lead down to three.

"Our defense fell a little bit," said Brockmeyer of the third quarter. "We gave up the drive and weren't helping as well as we did in the first half."

Brockmeyer finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds for her third career double-double, including 11 points in the fourth quarter to help SIU seal the win. 

"Abby has a savvy to her," fifth-year head coach Cindy Stein said. "Defensively she sneaks up on people. She had to defend a guard today and that shows her versatility. While I think 27 points and 14 rebounds is outstanding, its the fact that she had to guard a really tough player that got on a roll and she had to step up and get some stops."

Brockmeyer was joined by Kristen Nelson and Kylie Giebelhausen. Nelson tallied 13 points and no turnovers while Kylie Giebelhausen had 10 points and tied a career-best with seven assists. Giebelhausen and Rachel Pudlowski were instrumental in SIU holding Evansville's leading scorer, Hannah Noe, who came into Friday's game averaging 17 points a contest, to just one field goal and four points.

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