CARBONDALE — The Saluki women’s basketball team took care of business Saturday.
The Salukis closed the regular season, playing host to Evansville. The Aces came to Carbondale 0-17 in Missouri Valley Conference play and riding a 19-game losing streak. SIU methodically dismantled the Aces 66-41.
“Your team can’t relax too much,” said SIU coach Cindy Stein. “I thought we were flat at times. The energy isn’t like we would like it. We have to be able to create our own energy a little better. The main thing was just getting in a flow.
“Our goal was not to try to blow them out. I think that is the wrong approach. I wanted them to share the ball. I wanted us to move the ball, use two or three sides of the floor. For the most part, we did all those things.”
The Salukis got off to a quick start, pounding the ball to Nicole Martin inside. Martin six points on the board in the first four minutes and got Evansville’s bigs in early foul trouble. Kylie Giebelhausen’s long two-pointer gave SIU a 9-2 lead less than five minutes in.
The Aces closed the gap to a single point late in the first quarter, but the Salukis righted the ship, leading by double digits most of the game.
“Obviously we were in control the whole game,” Stein said. “There was some good, bad and ugly, but a lot more good. We got a little ugly at times. You have to take them out, snap them out of it and come back.
“I liked our ball movement today. I thought our defense was really solid. We hit the boards hard, especially offensively. And, we were able to keep (Kerri) Gasper under control.”
There was plenty of good.
The Salukis turned the ball over just four times the entire game while forcing 18 turnovers. SIU hit 16-of-32 shots from the floor in the second half. And, they grabbed 16 offensive rebounds.
“We were sending four people to the boards,” Stein said. “They weren’t breaking on us, so we were going to send four people to the boards to try to pick up any loose ball we could.”
While SIU was firmly in control from the middle of the second quarter on, the Salukis put their imprint on the game in the final seven minutes of the third quarter, outscoring Evansville 13-2. The Salukis got 3-pointers from Brittney Patrick and Abby Brockmeyer during that run. Brockmeyer, Rachel Pudlowski and Kristen Nelson also scored from close range.
And, the Salukis got the victory against the backdrop of Senior Day.
Giebelhausen, SIU’s lone senior, scored just nine points, but that was good enough to place her among the Top 10 scorers all-time. In addition, ranks second in made 3-pointers and third in blocked shots. She has more than 500 rebounds and over 300 assists.
“It’s a little bit surreal, but I’m proud of what I’ve done here,” Giebelhausen said. “I’m happy. I know some people are emotional, like my mom, some of my cousins, because they followed me since I was a kid watching this.
“The time goes by fast. The seasons feel like they go on forever, then all of a sudden you’re done.”
The Salukis placed three players in double figures. Martin led the way with 15 while Patrick and Brockmeyer had 10 apiece. Brockmeyer also had 10 rebounds. It was her fifth double-double of the season. Only Mary Berghuis and Dyana Pierre accomplished that feat at SIU.
Gasper led Evansville with 13 points. She is the only Evansville player to reach double figures.
The Salukis head into the Missouri Valley Conference tournament on a modest two-game winning streak. SIU meets Indiana State Friday afternoon in quarterfinal action.