SIU falls to Florida Atlantic 85-81 despite 34 from Macklin


CORAL GABLES, Fla.Cartaesha Macklin scored a career-high 34 points, but the Southern Illinois women’s basketball team couldn’t hold off Florida Atlantic in an 85-81 loss to the Owls Saturday night at the UM Thanksgiving Tournament.

Playing in front of friends and family in her home state, Macklin netted 10 field goals and went 12-for-14 from the free throw line to amass the fifth highest scoring total in SIU history and the highest output by an SIU player in 10 years.

Sophomore guard Cartaesha Macklin scored 34 points.

SIU head coach Missy Tiber said Macklin’s night was sparked by a move back to the point guard position with freshman Rishonda Napier playing the two guard.

“We made some key changes that allowed two players on our team to be better, and I think it made our whole team better,” Tiber said. “‘Cartaesha had a phenomenal game. And Rishonda went for 12 points and eight rebounds. I think it also made her better.”

Despite suffering their fourth loss of the young season, the Salukis (0-4) showed tremendous signs of improvement from their previous three games. Southern came out on top of a back-and-forth first half and led as much as seven in the second before a late run by FAU (3-2) pushed the Owls over the top.

The two teams had eight ties and nine lead changes in the first half before the Salukis took a 47-44 lead into the break. The Salukis’ 47 first-half points were the most SIU has scored in a half since netting 49 in the second half against DePaul last season. Macklin scored 26 in the first half alone.

Southern ran out to its biggest lead at 51-44 two minutes into the second half before FAU responded with a 13-0 run to slingshot into the lead by six points at the 14:36 mark. The Salukis battled back within one point, but the Owls pushed the lead back to eight points at 68-60 with 10:26 left.

SIU again responded, fighting back to tie the game at 73-73 on a 3-pointer by Napier, and later tied the game again at 76-76 on a 3-point play by freshman center Dyana Pierre. The Salukis had chances in the final minutes, but missed a few free throws and couldn’t get the defensive stops they needed.

“You’ve got to give our kids credit. They didn’t roll over. They continued to fight,” Tiber said. “When it came down to it, our kids played unbelievably hard. We had a couple of turnovers and we missed a couple of free throws that we’d love to have back.”

After struggling from the free throw line through its first three games, SIU shot an efficient 20-for-27 from the stripe (74.1 percent) against FAU. Despite missing leading rebounder Alexus Patterson, who was out with an injury, SIU out-rebounded the Owls 54-39 led by a career-high 15 boards from Pierre.

Sophomore guard Mercedes Griffin also turned in the best performance of her young career, scoring 10 points with seven rebounds.

“Our defense is going to take some time,” Tiber said. “I told the team, we can get better with our effort and we can get better rebounding the ball — simple things that you can measure. I think our kids did that tonight.”

The Salukis will be back in action at noon Thursday at SIU Arena hosting IPFW for Field Trip Day.

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