By Daniel Hartmann
An absolutely dominant game from Dyana Pierre allowed the Salukis to win their second straight game and finish the preseason WNIT on a high note. The 79-70 victory improved the Salukis to 2-1 in the regular season.
When told about her stat line after the game, Pierre laughed and responded with, “Well that’s a shock.” Not to myself and everyone else in the stands. Pierre was by far the best player on the court during her 43 minutes on the court. She posted a 27 point, 21 rebound, 2 assist, 2 block, and 2 steal assault on the box score.
She was given back-up throughout the first four quarters by Kylie Giebelhausen’s sharp shooting. Giebelhausen drained four 3-pointers on her way to 16 points, and at one point had scored 11 of 15 Saluki points, and assisted on two more. But aside from these two, not many Salukis stood out to start.
A 10 point third quarter deficit, threatened to down the Dawgs, but they fought back with a vengeance. They managed to come all the way back and took a three point lead with 12 seconds left. Then Jayda Johnson sent this one to overtime with an offensive rebound and drained a three pointer with three seconds left. Napier’s attempt at the buzzer was off right, and her night up until then had been quiet.
Until the overtime period. Rishonda Napier exploded for 8 points in the five minutes of overtime. Pierre and Napier scored every one of SIUC’s points in the overtime period. Of note besides the scoring of these two, was the defense that the ‘Dawgs deployed. Two immediate blocks from Pierre set the tone in overtime. But the play of the period came from Carlie Corrigan. With SIU nursing a 69-67 lead, Corrigan got in front of a two-person fast break and broke up the play with a leaping block. The Salukis then raced down the court and scored again to give them the lead they needed to win the game.
I think Tiajeney Hawkins should start getting some more time on the court. Though she played four official minutes on the box score, she only played 3:14 of total time. In her time on the court, the Salukis outscored the Lady Tigers of Tennessee State 5-0, and she scored four of those points, and added lock down defense on the perimeter.
“Tiajeney is going to be really good. And so, I’ve gotta find her more minutes,” Coach Stein reported after the game.
And after the last two games, in limited minutes, I would tend to agree with her. She just seems like she can make things happen. We saw it today in the game, but alos yesterday. When she’s in the game, she’s confident, she attacks the basket, and can make shots from the mid-range as well. That doesn’t even mention her intensity on the defensive side of the court, or her willingness to attack the boards.
Also something to pay attention to was Azia Washington’s absence. The normal starter at the power forward position for the Dawgs missed the game with a deep thigh bruise. From the start of the game, it was easy to tell that the Salukis were missing her presence. As Coach Stein said after the game, Washington’s experience is important to the team’s defense, spacing, and getting Pierre out of double teams.
The Salukis’ next home game is Wednesday, November 25, at 6:00 p.m., against Tennessee-Martin.