CARBONDALE — The Saluki women’s basketball squad concluded dress rehearsal Friday night with a 90-68 win over Lindenwood University.
The curtain goes up on the regular season next Friday when UT-Martin comes calling. Are the young Salukis ready?
“I like our team,” said SIU coach Cindy Scott. “I think we have a lot of pieces and that’s what I’m excited about.”
The Salukis are young. Two freshmen, forward Abby Brockmeyer, who finished with a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) and guard Makenzie Silvey, started against Lindenwood. A third freshman, Rachel Pudlowski logged 16 minutes.
It was clear the team made progress from last week’s exhibition win over Kentucky Wesleyan.
“I think our offensive execution was a little better,” said Kylie Giebelhausen, the team’s lone senior. “We got a chance to press. We put in some defenses, offenses that we didn’t want to run last week and kind of held back on. We improved on what we did actually run last week. I think we found open players better. I think the rebounding was there. We had a lot more aggressive play from our post players. The rebounds were evenly distributed.”
And, the Salukis cut their turnovers down from 25-14.
Yet, Stein stopped short of saying she was happy with where the team is at with the regular season just a week away.
“Are coaches ever happy?” she said. “I’ve just never been that coach. You’re never satisfied. We have a chance to be really, really good, but we’re young. The stuff you see where we look like a million bucks and all of a sudden we go on a four-minute drought where we look pathetic. We’ve got to get over that.”
In the early going Friday, it was the million buck Salukis that showed up. SIU pounded the ball inside early with the first four buckets coming on offensive rebounds, two by Brockmeyer, and a short jumper by Nicole Martin. Brockmeyer had eight offensive rebounds.
SIU enjoyed a 41-24 rebounding advantage in the game.
“The thing about Abby is she loves and ones,” Stein said. “She loves getting the rebound, putting it in and getting fouled. She has really good body control. She just has a nose for the ball. She makes herself available too, she knows how to get open. I think the part of her game that hasn’t showed up yet is her three-point shooting. She’s actually a really good three-point shooter.”
In addition to Brockmeyer and Silvey, the Salukis started Giebelhausen, Martin and Brittney Patrick at the point. That may or may not be the starting lineup against UT-Martin next weekend.
“I thought Brittney played well,” Stein said. “Brittney and Kris (Nelson), for the most part, really played well. I’m not sure who to favor over the other. They both bring really good things. They both, I know, got us going at different parts of the game. I like that Kris can play the off-guard as well. That helps her as well. I like to play them together.”
The Saluki lead grew to 16 points at one point in the first quarter and ballooned to as many as 23 in the second quarter. The lead was never less than 14 in the second half.
Although erratic at times, the Salukis were more cohesive offensively than in the first exhibition.
“I hope so,” Giebelhausen said. “That was an emphasis on this game. Last game it (turnover total) shouldn’t have been that high to begin with. We shot ourselves in the foot. It wasn’t them getting steals, it was us doing it to ourselves. We traveled, or we tried to force the ball.”
Brockmeyer and Celina VanHyfte led the scoring with 15 points. Silvey and Nelson had 10. Van Hyfte added six boards.