Women's Hoops Wins Regular Season Finale at Northern Iowa, 66-61
March 9, 2013
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - Three Redbirds scored in double figures, as the Illinois State women's basketball team (21-9, 13-5 MVC) won its final game of the regular season at Northern Iowa (15-15, 10-8 MVC), 66-61, Saturday at the McLeod Center. ISU ended the second half of the conference season with a record of 8-1.
Janae Smith led Illinois State with 16 points, while Jamie Russell poured in 15 and Alexis Jenkins added 14. Russell brought down eight rebounds, while Chloe Nelson grabbed seven boards, tying a career-high. The Redbirds had the advantage on the boards, pulling down seven more than the Panthers, as ISU connected on 47 percent of its shots from the field, while UNI shot 36 percent from the field.
The two teams traded baskets until Northern Iowa went on a 7-0 run to take an 11-7 advantage with 13:23 to play in the first half. Illinois State was held scoreless for nearly four minutes, when Smith hit a layup to get within two, 11-9. The Redbirds and the Panthers went back and forth again, but UNI would get ahead by five, 20-15, until ISU scored four-straight points to get within one.
ISU took the momentum and went on a 13-3 run to take a 28-23 lead with 1:57 to play in the opening half. In the run, Jenkins scored five-straight points thanks to a three and a pair of free throws, as the Redbirds scored nine-straight points. Northern Iowa didn't score a field goal in the final 5:24 of the first half, as ISU headed into the locker room with a five-point advantage, 28-23.
At the half, Smith led all scorers with 10 points, while Jenkins added seven. On the boards, Russell grabbed six, as Illinois State had the advantage, bringing down seven more rebounds than Northern Iowa. The Redbirds made 40 percent of their first half shots, while the Panthers connected on 27 percent of their shot attempts.
The Redbirds jumped out to a 10-point lead twice early in the second half, but the Panthers were able to get back within five, 37-32, at the 16:27 minute mark. ISU regrouped and went on a 9-3 run to take an 11-point advantage. Jenkins had five points in the run, forcing UNI to call a timeout with 12:08 to play.
ISU's defense was making it hard for UNI to hold on to the ball, as ISU went on a 9-4 run to take a 15-point lead, 55-40, with 7:36 to play. The Panthers refused to back down, as they used a 14-1 run to cut ISU's lead to two, 58-56, with 1:35 to play, while Illinois State missed on five-straight possessions. The Redbirds sank six free throws late in the game to secure the win, 66-61.
The Redbirds will compete in the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Women's Basketball Championship as the No. 3 seed. ISU will take on No.6-seeded Bradley Friday night at 8:30 p.m., at Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo.
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