CARBONDALE, IL(WFIE) - In its regular season finale, the University of Evansville women's basketball team was clipped by Southern Illinois,66-41, on Saturday afternoon in Carbondale, Ill.
"It's kind of been our luck for things like that to happen, whether its injuries or foul trouble, with the limited bench we have it puts us in a tough spot," said Aces head coach Matt Ruffing. "This is a group that unfortunately we can't get over the hump in those situations and we continue to put ourselves in those spots. I just told them we have one more guaranteed chance to put it together, to put together the effort, the communication, and the togetherness that we need to come out with a victory. Hopefully we can learn from this and hopefully we saved some shots for next Thursday and we have a better performance."
For the 11th time in the last 12 games, junior guard Kerri Gasper paced the Purple Aces in scoring with 13 points, adding seven rebounds and an assist. Graduate guard Hannah Noe and sophomore guard Macie Lively each finished with nine points, as Noe chipped-in three rebounds and an assist while Lively contributed a pair of boards. Nicole Martin led the way for the Salukis with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Abby Brockmeyer and Brittney Patrick added 10 points a piece with Brockmeyer recording a double-double with 10 rebounds.
In the first quarter, Southern Illinois jumped out to a 5-0 lead, forcing an Evansville timeout just 2:50 into the contest. Out of the timeout, the Salukis built their advantage to seven at 11-4, but the Aces responded with a 6-0 run to cut SIU's lead to just one inside the final three minutes of the quarter. SIU closed the half with a pair of layups as the Salukis held a 15-10 lead after the first period.
The Salukis controlled much of the early portion of the second quarter as SIU went on a 10-3 run over the opening 4:32 of the frame to give the Salukis a 25-13 advantage. Layups by Gasper and sophomore guard Macie Lively pushed Evansville back within single digits at 25-17 less than a minute later. After the Aces closed back within eight, SIU held Evansville to just two points over the final 4:49, while the Salukis scored seven of their own to take a 32-19 advantage into the halftime break.
Evansville and SIU found their offensive rhythm in the third period as both sides combined for 20 points in the first 5:29 of the quarter with the Salukis leading 44-27. SIU continued its efficient shooting in the second portion of the third period as the Salukis grabbed a 52-29 lead following the third quarter. In the period, SIU shot 9-15 from the field, while the Aces shot 20% (2-10).
The fourth quarter featured one final push from the Aces as Evansville went on an 8-4 to open the period and cut the Salukis' lead to 19 at 56-37 with 6:25 left to play. SIU responded with a 6-0 run to push its lead back above 20 on three-straight layups. Over the final 4:01, the Salukis built their lead to 27 before freshman guard Kayla Casteel scored her second basket of the game on layup to conclude the scoring as SIU earned the 66-41 win.
Southern Illinois narrowly won the rebounding battle over the Aces, 39-32, but Evansville committed 18 turnovers to three for the Salukis.
The Aces return to action on Thursday in the 2018 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in Moline, Ill. as the No. 10 seed and will face the No. 7 seed in a 7 p.m. matchup.