Redbirds Hold on to Defeat Sycamores, 66-65
Jamie Russell led the Redbirds with 16 points
Jamie Russell led the Redbirds with 16 points

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Jan. 25, 2013

NORMAL, Ill. - After surrendering an 11-point lead and enduring a five-minute stretch without a field goal, the Illinois State women's basketball team needed a play down the stretch to regain control of the game. Senior Alexis Jenkins delivered, hitting a jumper at the 3:01 mark to give the Redbirds a 65-63 lead they would not relinquish, as Illinois State (13-6, 5-2 MVC) defeated Indiana State (11-7, 3-4 MVC), 66-65, Friday night at Redbird Arena.

Jenkins scored 10 points on the evening and was one of four Redbirds to score in double figures, joining Jamie Russell (16), Janae Smith (15) and Candace Sykes (11). Anna Munn and Marina Laramie of Indiana State led all scorers with 17 points apiece, but it was Munn's potential game-winning shot that clanged off the rim as time expired, ensuring a Redbird win.

After going on a 12-1 run to close out the first half with a 39-31 lead, the Redbirds extended their advantage to 11 at the outset of the second stanza on an Alexis Foley three-pointer, Illinois State's first of the game. The Sycamores would chip away at the Redbird advantage for the next 14 minutes, grabbing their first lead, 61-60, since the 5:23 mark of the first half on a jumper from Laramie. After a free throw from Brianna Puni momentarily evened the game, Laramie put the Sycamores back on top with two of her own from the charity stripe, making it 63-61 with 4:01 remaining. The Redbirds clamped down defensively from there, holding the Sycamores without a point for the next 3:52 while coming back for the win.

The first half featured back and forth action, with 12 lead changes and eight ties underscoring the pace. The Redbirds and Sycamores struggled to get on track offensively at the outset, as both squads missed seven of their first eight shots. Both teams began to find their rhythm about five minutes in, however, as Indiana State broke a 9-9 tie with four-straight points to grab a 13-9 lead. The Redbirds responded with five-consecutive points of their own to grab a one point lead, before the squads continued to trade baskets.

A Sykes three-point play, followed by a driving layup from Jenkins, gave the Redbirds a 21-18 lead with 9:36 left in the half. Illinois State stayed on top for the game's next two minutes, the longest lead for any team in the first 12 minutes, before relinquishing the advantage on a fast break layup by Munn that put Indiana State on top 24-23 with 7:31 left in the opening half.

After Munn hit the only three pointer of the game for either team at the 5:23 mark to put Indiana State up by three, 30-27, Smith scored eight-straight points, as part of a 12-1 Redbird run to close out the half. Smith's spurt started with layups on back-to-back possessions, giving Illinois State their ninth lead of the game with 4:48 left in the half. She continued her individual 8-0 run with a pair of free throws and jumper to put ISU up 35-30, the largest lead of the game for either team. Jenkins added two free throws to make it a seven-point lead, before a free throw from Munn broke a 4:13 Sycamore scoring drought. With time winding down in the first half, Russell stole the ball and found Smith on the other end of the court for a fast break bucket that gave the Redbirds a 39-31 half time advantage.

The Redbirds hit the road for their next two games, beginning with a trip to league-leading Wichita State for a 7 p.m., tip off Friday, Feb. 1. The squad will stay west of the Mississippi to play at Missouri State on Sunday, Feb. 3, at 2:05 p.m. Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.