ISU Falls after a Strong Second Half by Creighton, 68-59

Feb. 17, 2012

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OMAHA, Neb. - Jamie Russell led all scorers with 21 points, but a strong second half by Creighton proved to be too much for the Illinois State women's basketball team, as it fell to the Bluejays, 68-59, Friday in D.J. Sokol Arena.

Chloe Nelson added 10 points for the Redbirds, tying a career high, while Marley Hall netted eight points, all coming in the second half. Candace Sykes brought down 10 boards, while Russell grabbed seven. Illinois State (14-10, 9-4 MVC) controlled the boards, 38-33, but a field goal percentage of 54 in the second half for Creighton (14-11, 8-6 MVC) allowed it to make 42 percent of its shots for the game, while ISU connected on 39 percent of its attempts.

Both teams had trouble getting comfortable at the start of the game, as there were five turnovers committed between the Redbirds and the Bluejays in the first four minutes. Creighton didn't hit a field goal for nearly the first four minutes of the game, while Russell got hot early and made three baskets for six of Illinois State's first eight points. Nelson connected on five-straight points to give the Redbirds a six-point lead, 13-7, with 11:12 remaining in the first half.

Creighton responded and went on a quick 7-2 run to get within one point of Illinois State twice, but a three-point play by Brianna Puni increased ISU's lead to four, 18-14, with 8:47 left in the half. Despite their quick run, the Bluejays didn't net a field goal for nearly seven minutes, while the Redbirds went on a 10-2 run with five separate players scoring in the run, giving ISU a 25-16 advantage with 4:02 remaining before intermission. CU answered ISU's offensive attack and ended the first half on a 7-2 run, cutting Illinois State's lead to six, 29-23, heading into the locker room.

At the half, Nelson led all scorers with 10 points, while Russell added eight for the Redbirds. Russell and Sykes each brought down four boards in the first half, while Sykes also dished out three assists. Illinois State had a slight advantage over Creighton on the boards, 19-17, and shot 43 percent from the field, while CU hit 31 percent of its shots.

The Bluejays scored in four-straight possessions to start the second half and took a two-point lead, 31-29, with 18:17 left in the game, but Russell responded with a three to take back the lead for the Redbirds, 32-29. CU regained the momentum with a 5-0 run to increase its lead to four, but a three by Katy Winge put ISU back within one, 36-35 with 16:10 left in the game. Seconds later, Russell successfully completed a three-point play to grab the lead, 38-37, for Illinois State.

The two teams traded baskets until Creighton went on a 6-0 run, including a shot from behind the arc by Ally Jensen, to give the Bluejays a 51-44 lead with 11:02 left in the game. Hall and Maddie Oliver battled in the paint and scored 10-straight points for ISU, cutting CU's lead to two, 56-54, with 4:06 left in the game. The Bluejays ended the game on a 12-5 run, as the Redbirds ran out of time and fell, 68-59.

Illinois State will return to action Sunday in Des Moines, Iowa, against Drake, beginning at 2:05 p.m.

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