Salukis Overpower Lady Bears, Hold on for 69-58 Decision
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois dominated Missouri State in the first half, then held off a late Lady Bear rally to come away with a 69-58 victory Saturday (Jan. 31) at SIU Arena. The Salukis’ senior duo of Erica Smith and Jasmine Gibson combined for 43 points and 19 rebounds to help SIU (6-12, 2-7 MVC) earn its second straight Missouri Valley Conference win.
The victory for SIU came in spite of another career performance from freshman guard Jaleshia Roberson, who scored 26 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the floor and a 7-of-8 effort at the foul line to lead MSU’s second-half comeback attempt.
Southern Illinois came out of the gate on fire, hitting seven of its first nine field goals and reeling off 12 unanswered points over a four and-a-half minute stretch to turn a tie game into a 17-5 Saluki lead. The SIU defense played a big role in the run, holding the Lady Bears without a field goal for over nine minutes. For the half, the Salukis would limit MSU to just 6-of-19 (.316) shooting from the floor, while forcing 13 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes.
The Salukis shot .457 from the floor, including 4-of-10 from three-point range, and dominated the Lady Bears on the glass, finishing with a 21-12 rebounding advantage in the opening period.
The Lady Bears scored the first six points coming out of the break to cut the SIU lead to 13 points, but Gibson buried a long three and Katrina Swingler knocked down a jumper on the Salukis next possession to turn the momentum back in SIU’s favor.
Missouri State would make a late charge at the Salukis behind the play of Roberson, who poured home 22 of her 26 points in the second half. It marked the second consecutive game the Grandview, Mo., native exceeded her career scoring high, following a 19-point performance at in a 76-63 win at Evansville on Thursday (Jan. 29).
After SIU had taken its largest lead of the day with 6:50 to play, the Lady Bears went on a 19-6 scoring run to pull to within 64-56 with just under two minutes to play. Roberson would score 11 straight MSU points over a three-minute stretch, but SIU turned back the threat by sinking 9-of-12 free throws down the stretch, including 5-of-7 by Smith.
Smith sparked the Saluki offense with 12 of her 20 points on the day in the first half, as the senior guard knocked down four field goals during the Salukis’ critical scoring spurt. She would finish with game-highs of 12 rebounds, four assists and three steals to lead the SIU attack. Gibson tallied a team-high 23 points, including 14 after intermission, to go along with seven boards and a pair of steals.
Casey Garrison also finished in double figures for MSU, finishing with 15 points and team-highs of nine boards, three assists, two blocks and two steals.
The Lady Bears recovered from their lackluster first-half shooting effort to conclude the day 20-of-54 (.370) from the floor. MSU was strong from the foul line, hitting 11-of-12 (.917) second-half free throw tries.
Missouri State (6-14, 2-7 MVC) returns home to host Creighton this Friday (Feb. 6) in a 7:35 p.m. contest that will be carried live on Fox Sports Midwest as part of the Missouri Valley Conference’s TV package.