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SIU head coach Cindy Stein calls out instructions to her players late in the fourth quarter against SIU-E at SIU Arena on Monday. The Salukis went on to lose 57-53.

MOREHEAD, Ky. — The SIU women's basketball team dropped an 85-81 decision at Morehead State Thursday night inside Johnson Arena.

The Salukis (3-3) led by three at the half, and increased their advantage to eight after three quarters but the Eagles (5-3) made their move in the fourth quarter. Morehead State opened the fourth with a 13-2 run to take a 74-71 lead with 6:24 to play. With Morehead State leading by two with 14 seconds remaining in regulation, SIU got the ball inside to Nicole Martin with a chance to tie, but contact forced Martin to alter her shot and the ball rimmed out.

"We have a lot of options on the play we ran," fifth-year coach Cindy Stein said. "We have an option for every single player depending on what the defense does. (Martin) had the best look, so obviously we gave her the ball. But she had a tough night. That's one of those things that happens when you're not scoring and you're struggling a little bit. Hats off to Morehead State, they played a very physical, defensive game."

Kylie Giebelhausen led the Salukis with 22 points and eight rebounds. It was the seventh time in her career that the East Peoria native has scored 20-plus points, and her six three-pointers are tied for the second-most in a game in program history. Kristen Nelson scored a career-high 14 points and dished out three assists, while Makenzie Silvey reached double figures for the fifth time this season with 14 points.

Martin tied a career-best with 12 rebounds, 10 of which came in the first half.

Tierra McGowan led Morehead State with 23 points and 12 rebounds, and was one of four Eagles to score in double figures.

The Salukis were able to build multiple double-digit leads throughout the game with the use of the three-ball, as Southern was 7-for-13 (53.7 percent) from downtown in the opening half and finished 12-of-23 (52.2 percent) from behind the arc. SIU's 12 3-pointers were a season-best. Morehead State countered by going right at SIU's bigs, as the Eagles' guards were able to penetrate Southern's defense and slash to the basket with relative impunity. Morehead State scored nearly half (42-of-85) of its points in the paint.

SIU led by as many as 11 in the first half, but foul trouble reared its ugly head. Both Martin and Abby Brockmeyer were called for their second fouls early in the second quarter and the Eagles took advantage of their absence by getting to within three (42-39) at the half.

The Salukis again pushed their lead to double digits in the third quarter when four-straight points off the bench by Rachel Pudlowski gave SIU a 63-53 lead with 2:26 remaining in the third. Giebelhausen's sixth 3-pointer gave SIU a 69-61 lead at the end of three.

Southern's offense stalled in the fourth quarter and Morehead State took advantage. The Eagles outscored the Salukis, 24-12 in the frame, as it used a 13-2 run that spanned the opening 3:36 of the fourth to take a 74-71 lead. A back tap by Celina VanHyfte gave the Salukis an extra possession and Brittney Patrick sank a corner three-pointer to tie the game, 76-76 with 5:19 remaining.

Back-to-back baskets by the Eagles gave MSU its largest lead of the game at 80-76. Southern had multiple chances to tie but could not convert.

The Salukis are next in action on Saturday at Marshall University. Tip-off is set for noon.

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Sports reporter

Todd Hefferman has covered SIU athletics since 2008. A University of Iowa grad, he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and a Heisman Trophy voter.

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