Sports Week of March 3, 2014
Friday, March 7, 2014
Lady Salukis fall on the road Thursday losing to Loyola 67-56
Lady Salukis fall on the road Thursday losing to Loyola 67-56
The Southern Illinois women's basketball team lost to Loyola on Thursday night, 67-56. Dyana Pierre put up her third-straight double-double with 18 points and 18 rebounds, but Loyola's Becca Smith was the star of the game, nearly securing a triple-double with six points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists.
"We started out extremely flat," head coach Cindy Stein. "The atmosphere is dead in here. You have to create your own energy and your own excitement, and we did not."
SIU (5-23, 3-14 MVC) started with a quick bucket to get a 2-0 lead, but Loyola's 2-3 zone stifled the Salukis. Dyana Pierre, the MVC Player of the Week after averaging 25.0 points last weekend, found herself double- and triple-teamed in the zone and was held without a field goal in the first half. Needing some outside shooting to open up the inside game, SIU shot just 2-for-20 from the 3-point line.
Pierre figured out the defense in the second half and finished with 18 points and 18 rebounds, her third-straight 15-point, 15-rebound double-double. Pierre has an MVC-leading 12 double-doubles this year and 21 for her career, which is tied for 13th in MVC history.
"It's a scary thing, isn't it? She had 18 points and 18 rebounds, and she had a bad game," Stein said. "She was not as strong as she normally is defensively."
SIU controlled the boards, grabbing 24 offensive rebounds and outrebounding the Ramblers by 16, but it was Loyola that controlled the paint with a 44-24 edge in points in the paint.
Loyola pushed their lead up to 19 points in the opening moments of the second half. The Salukis made a push and got within 11 after a 10-2 run, but Loyola responded with a 10-2 run of their own. SIU would not go away, however, making one final run in the last few minutes to ignite the pro-SIU crowd at Gentile Arena.
"When you're trying to dig out of a hole, you have to play with a lot of passion," Stein said. "The group that we had in there pressing and getting some turnovers--it was a little too late, but at least they were digging down and trying to make something happen."
Azia Washington made a pair of free throws with 1:14 remaining to get Southern within single-digits, but the Salukis would get no closer. Washington played well, scoring 14 points and grabbing seven rebounds in the game. Jordyn Courier continued to play well down the stretch and finished with nine points, four rebounds and three assists.
Loyola clinched the No. 8 seed in next weekend's MVC tournament with the win. Southern Illinois will have an opportunity for a third matchup against the Ramblers if it can beat Bradley on Saturday afternoon.
Monday, March 3, 2014
Former Yellow Jacket Kyle Landon is Missouri Valley Conference High Jump Champion
You can add another title to the long list of accomplishments for future CHS Sports Hall of Famer Kyle Landon.
The former Yellow Jackets and freshmen on the SIU Saluki men’s track team won the high jump at the Missouri Valley Conference’s Indoor Track and Field championships held over the weekend at Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, IA.
Landon won the championship with a leap of 6’ 11.5" on Sunday.
The former state champion now has the fifth best high jump mark in SIU Indoor Track and Field history. His personal best this season came with a leap of 7’ 1.5".
Landon though missed qualifying for the National Indoor meet by three-quarters of an inch. He needed a jump of 7’ 2.5" to qualify for the indoor championship where the top 15 jumpers in the country compete.
Landon not only has excelled as a member of the track team but also in the classroom as well. The freshman carried a perfect 4.0 grade point average during his first semester.
As a team, the SIU men finished third at the MVC championships over the weekend.
Smithpeters buries game-winning 3-pointer to lift Salukis past Redbirds, 66-65
It was Senior Day at sold-out SIU Arena, but a freshman saved the day for the Salukis.
Tyler Smithpeters buried a 28-footer from the left wing with nine seconds remaining to lift Southern Illinois to a 66-65 victory over Illinois State and cause the first capacity crowd in six years to erupt with joy.
"We do not win this game unless our fans are here today," said an emotional SIU head coach Barry Hinson afterward. "That was just music."
The Salukis (13-18, 9-9) surrendered a seven-point lead in the last five minutes, but ISU opened the door for a comeback by missing two free throws in the final 31 seconds. That gave Southern, which trailed, 65-63, a chance to tie or take the lead on its last possession.
With defenders draped on star guards Desmar Jackson and Anthony Beane, Smithpeters took matters into his own hands, launching a step-back three that caught nothing but nylon.
"This was an `I was there game,'" Hinson said. `I was there when we sold it out for the first time in six years. I was there when the kid from Harrisburg made the three."
It was Smithpeters' third 3-pointer and 11th point of the day -- marking only the third time this season he's reached double figures.
"He's a cocky little stinker," Hinson joked. "But you gotta have those guys. Cocky little stinkers make big plays."
The Redbirds (16-14, 9-9) had one last chance to win it, but center Reggie Lynch could not get a shot off from 12 feet away before the horn sounded. Illinois State head coach Dan Muller said he thought Southern's defense was in man-to-man, when in fact they were playing zone.
"The play was to get it back to Bobby (Hunter) and have him try to make a play," he said. "I put Reggie in a bad position. I thought they'd stay in man."
Said Hinson, "We did not want to foul, but we wanted to contest the shot, and golly, we got better than that -- they couldn't even get a shot off."
The score was tied 11 times and the lead changed hands 11 more times in a hotly contested game. Southern had a massive 43-21 advantage in rebounding, but it shot only 39 percent from the field. The Redbirds shot 46 percent from the field, but their four-guard lineup was overmatched on the glass, and Lynch played only 18 minutes in the game due to foul trouble. Daishon Knight led the Redbirds with 15 points.
"They got the ball in the middle of our zone a lot, which takes our big man away from the boards and opens guys up on the back side," said Muller.
Anthony Beane had 21 points and Desmar Jackson added 18 for the Salukis, who finished the conference season in a three-way tie for fourth place -- a dramatic improvement over last year's 10th-place finish. They will be the No. 6 seed and play No. 3 Northern Iowa next Friday night at 8:35 p.m.
"I think it gives us great evidence that we're finally turning the corner," Hinson said. "If that today wasn't a statement enough that our fans are excited, I don't know what more we could do."
Lady Salukis Stun First-Place Wichita State, 64-59
The Southern Illinois women's basketball team pulled off the biggest upset of the Missouri Valley Conference season this year, beating first-place Wichita State 64-59 at SIU Arena. SIU (5-22, 3-13 MVC) took its first lead of the day with 3:56 to play and never relinquished the lead.
"When your team sniffs a win, they get down and play a little better. They anticipate a little better," head coach Cindy Stein said. "They were really focused on what we needed to do. This was probably our best effort all year of executing the game plan."
Trailing by eight with 7:52 remaining in the game, Southern went on a 13-2 run and took a 58-55 lead. Wichita State (22-6, 13-4 MVC) cut the lead to one, and it looked like the Shockers were going to force a shot clock violation on the next possession, but Mercedes Griffin threw in a heavily contested long two-pointer off the glass to keep SIU ahead 60-57.
Griffin and Dyana Pierre made their free throws down the stretch, and the last-place Salukis had the upset over first-place Wichita State. Stein was asked if she saw the win coming.
"I wish I did. I would have been a lot more relaxed all day," Stein joked.
Pierre had a 20-point, 15-rebound double-double for the second time in as many games, leading all scorers with 23 points and leading all rebounders with 15 rebounds. Pierre put up 27 points and 18 rebounds on Thursday against Missouri State.
"They were trapping her, sometimes sending two or three kids, and she was just a beast," Stein said. "She wanted the ball, and she found a way to score. Our kids did a really good job of getting her in open spots."
The game featured what looked like a different SIU team than the one that took the court against the Shockers in Wichita. In that game, Wichita State outrebounded Southern by 16 and had 25 offensive rebounds.
Tonight, Southern had a convincing 38-26 advantage in rebounding. Pierre had as many rebounds at halftime (8) as any Shocker secured in the game. Southern had 15 offensive rebounds, which led to 16 second-chance points for the Salukis. Wichita, meanwhile, had just eight offensive rebounds.
In Wichita, Southern turned the ball over 22 times and had just seven assists. Tonight, the Salukis had their third-lowest turnover total of the season (14) and third-best assist total of the season (14).
In Wichita, Southern got down by 35 points and Wichita cruised to a 23-point win. Tonight, Southern fought back from a double-digit halftime deficit. The Salukis showed toughness. Azia Washington scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds despite suffering a broken finger in the first half.
"Tonight we put it all together," Stein said. "Can we do that at Loyola (on Thursday night)? We'll find out."
On Senior Day, Sidney Goins played arguably her best game of the season. The senior from Morristown, Tenn., scored nine points and added four assists and just one turnover. Jordyn Courier is ending her career on a high note, averaging nearly nine points per game over the last 10 games.
"This team has a lot of great love for Sid and Jordyn," Stein said. "They definitely wanted a hard-fought game, and they got the win because of it."
Wichita State continued a recent slide. After starting the conference season 12-0, the Shockers have now lost four of their last five and have fallen back into a three-way tie for first place in the MVC. The Salukis wore green shooting shirts, and both coaching staffs sported green outfits in support of the Donate Life intiative, which encourages people to become organ donors.
The Salukis close the regular season next weekend with games on the road against Loyola and Bradley.