MOLINE – It turns out you can beat a team three times in a season, but it’s not easy.
Trailing UNI 66-63 with 3.6 seconds remaining, the Salukis got off a pair of 3-point attempts, but neither would fall, giving the Panthers their third victory over SIU this season. UNI advances to face Missouri State in the Missouri Valley Conference semi-finals while SIU’s season ends at 15-15.
On the last sequence, SIU inbounded the ball to Makenzie Silvey in the corner. Her 3-point attempt was off the mark, but Abby Brockmeyer grabbed the rebound. Brockmeyer found a wide open Brittney Patrick well beyond the arc. Patrick’s last second shot drew iron, bounced up, hit the rim again, but fell off, securing Northern Iowa’s victory.
UNI defeated SIU by 12, nine and now three points this season.
The Salukis gave themselves every opportunity to win in the final minutes, getting key stops after falling behind by seven points.
“I think we did a good job of rebounding and minimizing turnovers,” said Silvey. “I just think our few lapses in the game plan is probably what cost us. It comes down to the details.”
That, and getting a critical shot to fall.
“We got stops,” Brockmeyer said. “We had the opportunities. We weren’t able to score. I had that wide open look at the end and couldn't get it to go. Brittney had an open shot and couldn’t get it to go.”
And, while the Salukis saved the drama for the end, the game was probably decided in the final five minutes of the third quarter. The game was tied at 41-41 with 5:55 remaining in the quarter when UNI went on a 9-3 run.
SIU went more than four minutes without scoring.
“We were trying to mix it up defensively,” said UNI coach Tonya Warren. “They have such a good inside-outside game. We were really trying to mix it up and keep them guessing. For the most part we were able to do that.”
At the same time, the Salukis gave Northern Iowa several free points. SIU put the Panthers in the bonus by the 5:21 mark.
“We weren’t getting stops,” said SIU coach Cindy Stein. “That’s one thing. We’re not getting stops, and they’re able to hit some good shots. We were in a position where they were able to set up their defense a little better. They changed defenses on us. They got us to stand around a little bit and we took quick shots. When they changed defenses we knew what we were supposed to do, we were just impatient.
“We wanted our kids to play aggressive. We did some things very undisciplined, such as those fouls. We had that problem all year. We have to be very determined to be better at it next year.”
Despite those mistakes, SIU had a chance to pull out a victory in the final moments.
“I loved the effort of our kids,” Stein said. “We did a lot of things we wanted to do. We took care of the ball. I thought we had good looks all night long. Unfortunately when we needed them, we couldn’t get them to fall.”
Silvey led the Salukis with 16 points while Patrick and Nicole Martin scored 15 each. Brockmeyer finished with 10.
Rucker, who was a thorn in SIU’s side all season, led UNI with 18. Abby Gerrits added a career-high 17 and Taylor Hagen had 16.
SIU’s season ends at 15-15.
Drake 96, Valparaiso 56
Drake earned the first spot in Saturday’s semi-final round with an 86-58 win over Valparaiso.
The defending champions got off to a quick start, scoring two points before a second ticked off the clock. Valparaiso was hit with a technical foul for reporting its starting lineup to the official scorer too late.
Drake made both free throws, starting the game with a 2-0 lead.
And, that carried over to the first quarter where the Bulldogs raced to a 21-5 first quarter advantage. Valparaiso never recovered from the slow start.
Becca Hittner led Drake with 18 points while Maddy Dean scored 16. Monica Burich added 10.
Grace Hales and Addison Stoller both scored 15 for the Crusaders and Allison Schofield had a dozen.
Drake takes a 26-5 mark into the semifinals while Valparaiso finishes 8-24.
Illinois State 61, Bradley 55
Illinois State earned the right to face Drake Saturday with a strong second half.
The Redbirds trailed Bradley 29-23 at halftime, but had a 38-26 advantage in the second half. Illinois State was able to slowly pull away from the Braves despite hitting just 18-of-28 free throws. However, Illinois State had a 43-33 advantage on the boards, including a 12-5 edge in offensive rebounds.
Illinois State placed four players in double figures. Simone Goods and Katrina Beck led the way with 15 points apiece. Tete Maggette added 13 and Viria Livingston scored 10.
Bradley freshman Lasha Petree came off the bench to lead the braves with 19 points. Shunseere Kent had 10.
Bradley’s season ends at 20-10 while Illinois State remains alive at 19-11.
Missouri State 59, Loyola 50
The Bears advanced to the semi-final round in a game that was closer than the final score indicated.
Missouri State, the No. 2 seed, trailed 31-27¬¬¬ at intermission before rallying with a big third quarter.
Danielle Gitzen led Missouri State with 18 points, including key buckets at the end of the second and third quarters. Alexa Willard added 12 and Brice Calip 10.
Maya Dunson scored 13 to lead Loyola. Abby O’Connor added a dozen and Ellie Rice had 10. O’Connor also snagged 14 rebounds.
Missouri State takes a 21-9 mark into semi-final action. Loyola’s season ends at 13-18.