Redbirds Pull Out Late Win Over Chippewas in WNIT
March 15, 2012
NORMAL, Ill. - A late three-pointer by junior Candace Sykes with 17 seconds left on the clock propelled Illinois State (19-12) to a 69-68 victory over Central Michigan (20-16) Thursday night on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). With the victory, the Redbirds will host Villanova in the second round, Sunday, at 2:05 p.m.
Sykes finished with a career-high 23 points, thanks to a 5-for-7 effort from three-point range, and added 10 rebounds to record her second-straight double-double and her sixth of the year for the Redbirds. Senior Katie Broadway tallied hit four three-pointers of her own to finish with 18 points on her birthday and junior Jamie Russell added 12 points and six rebounds for ISU. Central Michigan was led by Crystal Bradford's 23 points and 11 rebounds and Jas'Mine Bracey also added a double-double with 14 points and 12 boards.
The Redbirds took an early 4-2 lead after a jumper by Broadway just under three minutes into the game, but the Chippewas answered with a 9-0 run to take an 11-4 lead. ISU snapped a streak of 10-straight missed field goals, when Sykes connected from three-point range to end the drought from the field and cut the CMU lead to 11-7 at the 12:50 mark.
After a pair of free throws by Russell cut the lead to two points seconds later, Central Michigan went on an 11-0 run to extend its lead out to 22-9 after Bradford's second three-pointer and eighth point of the run. Not to be outdone, the Redbirds battled back with an 11-2 run capped off by a three-pointer from Russell at the 6:28 mark to cut the lead to 24-20. ISU eventually erased the 13-point deficit, when it took the lead at 29-28 on a jumper by Sykes with 1:31 left. A layup by Alexis Jenkins with just over one minute remaining in the half capped of the 11-4 run for the Redbirds as they took a 31-28 lead into the locker room at halftime.
A layup by Brandie Baker cut the ISU lead to 38-32 for the Chippewas two minutes into the second half, but the Redbirds answered once again with a three-pointer by Sykes to take their largest lead at the time at 41-34 with 17:11 left in the game. The Redbirds maintained a solid lead, until Central Michigan fought back and cut the lead to four points at 49-45 after a layup by Jessica Green. The run was quelled and the ISU eventually grew to 10 points at 55-45 with 9:50 left, after Broadway and Sykes hit back-to-back three-pointers.
The lead continued to grow to 12 points, after Broadway hit her fourth three-pointer of the game to put the Redbirds up 60-48 with just 7:36 left. Central Michigan then rallied back and went on a 19-4 run over the next six-plus minutes to re-take the lead at 67-64, after Bradford scored four-straight points for the Chippewas.
A layup by Russell with 1:09 remaining cut the lead to one at 67-66 for the Redbirds. After a foul by Russell and a missed free throw by Baker on the front end of a one-and-one, Sykes hit her fifth three-pointer of the game to give ISU the lead back at 69-67 with 17 seconds left on the clock. Bracey had a chance to tie the game for CMU at the free throw line after being fouled on a layup attempt with eight seconds left, but could only make the first of two shots as Russell rebounded the miss and was fouled.
Central Michigan had fouls to give and fouled Jenkins to stop the clock again. Russell was then fouled with three seconds left, which sent her to the line for the one-and-one. Russell missed the first shot and a last-second heave by the Chippewas fell short to give the Redbirds the victory.
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