Redbirds Hang On to Top Evansville, 62-59
March 1, 2012
EVANSVILLE, Ind. - Junior Jamie Russell led all scorers with 20 points, including a pair of free throws late in the game, to secure the Illinois State (17-11, 12-5) women's basketball team's win over Missouri Valley Conference rival Evansville (5-23, 2-15), 62-59, Thursday at the Ford Center. Russell was 8-of-12 from the field and perfect from the free throw line.
Candace Sykes added 10 points for the Redbirds, while Marley Hall and Katie Broadway had nine and eight points, respectively. Alexis Jenkins led the Redbirds on the boards with a career-high eight rebounds, while Hall, Russell and Sykes each grabbed five. Evansville had a slight advantage on the boards, 42-39, while both teams shot 39 percent from the field.
After trading baskets with Evansville to open the game, the Redbirds went on an 11-3 run to take a seven-point advantage, 17-10, with 12:17 left in the first half. Five Redbirds scored during the run. Back-to-back buckets by Hall and Russell increased ISU's lead to 10, 21-11. Illinois State grabbed a 13-point lead, 25-12, its largest of the game, but two-straight baskets by Evansville cut ISU's advantage to nine, 25-16, with 5:19 left in the first.
After going scoreless for nearly three minutes, Hall hit a free throw to add points to ISU's side of the scoreboard, 26-16, with 2:39 to go in the half. The two teams traded points for the remainder of the first half, as the Redbirds headed into the locker room ahead by nine, 29-20.
At the half, Russell led all scorers with eight points, while Chloe Nelson and Hall each added six. Jenkins brought down seven boards in the first half to lead all rebounders, while Sykes dished out three assists. ISU brought down more rebounds, 24-21. The Redbirds shot 38 percent from the field in the first half, while Evansville made 28 percent of their shot attempts.
Evansville opened the second half with a 6-0 run to get within three points of Illinois State, but a three from the corner by Katy Winge gave ISU a 32-26 advantage with 17:38 left in the game. The Purple Aces got within two, but a 6-0 run, including four-straight points by Sykes, put ISU on top by eight, 41-33, with 13:16 remaining. Both teams traded points, until Evansville used a 7-0 run to get within one point, 49-48, with 6:27 left to play.
The Purple Aces hit a three to tie the game, but Broadway answered right back with a three of her own, 58-55, with 2:39 left in the game. The two teams exchanged points for the final two minutes of the game, but a block by Sykes and a pair of free throws from Russell in the final seconds secured the win for ISU, 62-59.
The Redbirds will close out the regular season at Carbondale, Ill., as they take on Southern Illinois Saturday at 2:05 p.m.
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