CARBONDALE – The SIU women’s basketball team needed an A-plus performance to beat Creighton Thursday, but the Salukis turned in a grade significantly less than that in an 81-60 loss to the Bluejays at SIU Arena.
The preseason Missouri Valley Conference favorite, Creighton responded to a 19-17 SIU lead with a nine-point surge late in the first half. The Bluejays held a 41-29 advantage at halftime and scored the first seven points of the second half to establish firm control of the contest.
“They are good,” SIU coach Missy Tiber said. “They may be the best basketball team I’ve seen since I’ve been here.
“I think Carli Tritz is one of the best players in the league and she scored three points.”
While SIU (3-9, 0-1 Missouri Valley Conference) was able to shut down the conference’s preseason Player of the Year, it was Tritz’s supporting cast that dealt the Salukis a heavy blow. Nine players scored at least three points for Creighton (9-3, 1-0) which racked up 18 assists against 13 turnovers.
“I feel like we’re a deep team,” Creighton coach Jim Flanery said. “Our bench was great (Thursday) and I don’t even like to call them bench players because I could start Jordan (Garrison) or I could start Marissa (Janning) and I choose not to.”
Sarah Nelson led four Bluejays in double figures with 18 points, while Janning added 14, Garrison contributed 12 and Alyssa Kamphaus chipped in 10. Thirty-nine of Creighton’s points came from its reserves.
“In the first half, we were right there,” said SIU guard Rishonda Napier, who led SIU with 16 points. “I was very excited to play this game and we told ourselves we wanted to make a statement and in the first half we did that.”
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Napier and Cartaesha Macklin gave SIU its two-point lead with 8:21 left in the first half. But Garrison sank one of Creighton’s eight 3-pointers to give the Bluejays back the lead a little more than a minute later.
“I told our kids after the game that we didn’t win and did a lot of bad, but we did some good too,” Tiber said.
SIU struggled a bit on the offensive end, recording 20 turnovers for the third time in the past four games. Dyana Pierre added 12 points and Macklin finished with 11 for the Salukis.
“My vision right now is a little clouded of the last six minutes of the game and the too much one-on-one basketball,” Tiber said. “I’m trying to put that out (of my mind) and when we can spread the court out, we’ve got some kids that can beat you.”
SIU will welcome Drake (5-7, 0-1), which dropped a 68-62 decision to Evansville on Thursday, for a Saturday matinee at 2:05 p.m.
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