CARBONDALE — SIU's women's basketball team welcomes Missouri State tonight in a battle of top-three teams.
Tipoff at SIU Arena is set for 6 p.m. The game is scheduled to air on ESPN3 and WVZA 105.1 FM. Tickets are $3 for youth and $5 for adults for the Black Out Cancer game. Fans bid for the game-worn jerseys, with proceeds going to the SIH Cancer Institute in Carterville.
The Salukis (11-8, 6-2 Missouri Valley Conference) come off a home sweep of Loyola and Valparaiso last weekend. SIU pulled into third place in the league standings behind Valley newcomer of the week Makenzie Silvey. Silvey, a 5-foot-11 freshman guard, averaged 17.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, three assists and 2.5 steals a game in the Salukis' two victories.
SIU led Valparaiso by 18 points Sunday with 6:14 left in the third quarter, but allowed the Crusaders to cut the lead to four by the end of the period. Saluki coach Cindy Stein hopes to see more of a killer instinct tonight, if her team is lucky enough to get a double-digit lead on the second-place Lady Bears (11-8, 7-1).
"There's times we jump out, and we get a big lead, and that's a time we need to be puttin' them away, and we, all of a sudden, have stupid turnovers, or stupid fouls," Stein said. "We get a little undisciplined, and we get a little lax. That's something we've gotta continue to improve on."
Missouri State has won five straight games and seven of its last eight. The Lady Bears trail the only team to beat them in conference play so far, Drake (12-7, 7-0), by one game as they approach the halfway point of the Valley season.
Two players average double figures, guards Alexa Willard (11.4 points per game) and Liza Fruendt (16.3). Fruendt, a 5-10 senior who leads the Valley in scoring, was named league player of the week after scoring a career-high 33 points against Valparaiso and 29 against Loyola. The preseason player of the year has scored 10 or more points in seven straight games.
Missouri State leads the series against SIU 51-28. The Lady Bears have won 11 of their last 12 against the Salukis.