Offensive woes plague USI against Saint Louis


ST. LOUIS – University of Southern Indiana Women’s Basketball faced some tough luck on the road at Chaifetz Arena on Wednesday night, as good looks on the offensive end refused to fall for the Screaming Eagles in an 89-53 loss against Saint Louis University.

Tough defense ruled in the early minutes of the game, as Saint Louis carried only a 2-0 lead through the first four minutes of action. Despite good looks on the offensive end early on, USI was finally able to get the ball to go through the net in the middle of the first quarter. The Eagles built a 7-0 run that began with two inside looks before a three-pointer by sophomore guard Ali Saunders (Depauw, Indiana). Saint Louis responded with an 11-0 run over three minutes, leading to a 13-9 advantage into the second quarter.
In the second quarter, Saint Louis gradually increased its lead. At the 6:48 mark of the second, Saunders drilled her second three-pointer of the game to bring USI back within seven, 21-14. Following some back-and-forth play, the Billikens extended their lead with an 11-0 run in the back half of the period, taking a 39-18 lead. Before halftime, USI received a couple of baskets from freshman guard Triniti Ralston (Louisville, Kentucky) and freshman forward Chloe Gannon (Manchester, Tennessee) to make the score 41-22 in favor of Saint Louis at the intermission.
Getting the ball to cooperate and go through the net continued to plague the Eagles in the first three minutes of the second half. Junior guard Vanessa Shafford (Linton, Indiana) got USI on the scoreboard in the third quarter with a putback layup. Meanwhile, the Billikens’ offense stayed hot from the field, building on their advantage with a 55-27 lead at the third-quarter timeout.
Then USI’s defense clamped down on Saint Louis’ half-court offense, holding the Billikens without a field goal from the floor for over four minutes. On the other end, Southern Indiana’s offense picked up with seven straight points, including a triple from Shafford. After a small spurt from Saint Louis, USI ended the third with a steal and a layup by graduate guard Tori Handley (Jeffersonville, Indiana) to make the score 64-38 through three quarters.
Southern Indiana continued to get contributions from the freshmen off the bench in the fourth period. Guard Sophia Loden (Mascoutah, Illinois) knocked down a trey and scored in the paint for a quick five points while also getting it done defensively. Near the end of the fourth stanza, Shafford scored five straight points for USI to reach double figures for the fifth consecutive outing.
For the game, Southern Indiana shot 38 percent (23-61) with six triples. The Eagles collected 28 rebounds. Shafford led the Screaming Eagles with 14 points and seven rebounds. Gannon and Saunders each finished with nine points. Saunders hit three from beyond the arc in the game.
For Saint Louis, the Billikens were 44 percent (32-73) from the field with 11 three-pointers. The Billikens grabbed 53 rebounds. Saint Louis had five players score double digits, including a game-high 27 points by graduate guard Kyla McMakin.
The Screaming Eagles return home to Screaming Eagles Arena on Saturday at 1 p.m. against Eastern Michigan University, kicking off a three-game homestand to conclude the non-conference season for Southern Indiana. Saturday’s contest will be available to watch with a subscription to ESPN+.