CARBONDALE – SIU made Wichita State sweat a little bit, but the Shockers’ experience proved to be the difference in their 72-59 win over the Salukis on Friday at SIU Arena.
Rishonda Napier hit three straight 3-pointers to cut Wichita State’s lead to 54-48 with 8:33 remaining and SIU had the ball following a shot clock violation by the Shockers at the other end of the floor.
But Michelle Price blocked a 3-point attempt from Cartaesha Macklin and the Salukis turned it back over to Wichita State on a shot clock violation of their own.
“We did have a lot more emotion (Friday),” Napier said. “I feel like we came out with a lot more energy and those bursts of energy paid off when I started heating up at the 3-point line.”
Napier led the Salukis (4-13, 1-5 Missouri Valley Conference) with 23 points, which included a 6-for-9 performance from beyond the arc. SIU drained nine 3-pointers against the best 3-point defense in the conference, becoming only the third team this season to make at least five against Wichita State.
“When one girl gets six, you’re already going on a pretty good route,” said SIU interim coach Adrianne Harlow. “That’s really all it takes and I’ve always believed that shooting is contagious in either direction.”
Ultimately, SIU’s ball-control issues prevented it from pulling off a huge upset in front of an announced crowd of 311. The Salukis committed 21 turnovers, 14 of which were steals, which translated into 28 Wichita State points.
“(Wichita State) is also a team that causes 20 turnovers a game too,” Harlow said. “So, you’ve got two things colliding at once and that probably has to do with the youngness (of the team) and not doing stuff right.”
Chynna Turner led Wichita State with 22 points, while Alex Harden contributed 15. More than five minutes into the ballgame and Turner was the only player on either team to have scored with seven points, helping the Shockers to a 12-0 start.
“I thought (the team) played well out of a shaky start,” Harlow said. “Maybe a little intimidated, probably a little weirded out by the situation, but they settled down and fought back from numerous deficits.”
Harlow was named interim coach in the wake of former head coach Missy Tiber’s resignation on Monday. After 12 seasons as an assistant under Tiber, she was without her for the first time.
“It was strange, I would say,” Harlow said of the locker room atmosphere before the game. “Maybe not sure how it was going to be.”
Dyana Pierre recorded her first double-double in nine games for SIU with 17 points and 15 rebounds, while Macklin finished with 12 points. Wichita State (12-6, 6-0) was missing center Jazimen Gordon (concussion) and forward Kelsey Jacobs (knee) and SIU took advantage with a 36-29 edge in rebounding.
“In practice, it was all about rebounding,” Pierre said. “And I think that carried over to the game.”
SIU moves on to host Missouri State (9-9, 1-5), which dropped a 77-53 decision to surging Evansville on Friday, on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. The Bears have lost five of their last six games.
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