CARBONDALE — 11 Salukis scored at least one basket as the Southern Illinois women's basketball team blew past Loyola University, 71-49, Saturday afternoon at Gentile Arena.
Southern has now won four-straight, giving them their longest win streak to end the regular season since the 2006-07 season.
"The most significant thing for us is four wins in a row and getting that kind of momentum going into the tournament," fourth-year head coach Cindy Stein said. "We felt like these were games we could win, but at the same time, we knew it was going to be quite the battle. I'm just real proud of our team being really focused this past few weeks and working on getting better so that heading into the tournament we have good momentum."
Nicole Martin led the way with 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting and added five rebounds in just 18 minutes. Kim Nebo added 12 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting to go along with eight rebounds in 21 minutes of work. Kylie Giebelhausen added 11 points, six rebounds and three assists while Kristen Nelson chipped in eight points and four assists.
11 of 12 Salukis that dressed scored, with all 12 clocking at least 11 minutes of playing time.
The Salukis ball movement was a thing of beauty, as they recorded 26 assists on 32 field goals, the second-most assists they have dished out this season and the most in conference play this season.
"26 assists is the best stat of the game," said Stein. "I felt like our kids were very unselfish. We had a really good group of guards in there that moved the ball well."
The Salukis opened the game on a 9-2 run that spanned the first 4:29 minutes of the contest.
A 9-4 spurt to open the second stanza grew SIU's lead to 13, 27-14 with 5:49 to go in the first half and a layup by Rishonda Napier gave Southern a 40-20 lead at the half.
The second half was more of the same, as SIU outscored Loyola, 31-26 while playing mostly reserves.
With the win, the Salukis earn the No. 4 seed in next week's MVC Tournament. Southern will take on Wichita State on Friday, at 2:30 p.m. The Salukis swept the season series against the Shockers.
"They always give us our money's worth," Stein said of the Shockers. "We have to be ready to play and to handle a lot of physicality. It's going to be a battle of two teams who are very close, talent-wise. Every possession is going to be important."