Redbirds Fall to Shockers in Valley Tournament Title Game, 69-65
March 17, 2013
ST. CHARLES, Mo. - Despite Jamie Russell's 27 points and Janae Smith's 19, the Illinois State women's basketball team (23-10) fell to Wichita State (24-9), 69-65, in the championship game of the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Sunday afternoon at Family Arena. For their efforts throughout the tournament, Russell and Smith were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Russell led all scorers and was three points shy of her career-high with 27 points, while Smith made 54 percent of her shots from the field. Brianna Puni recorded the third double-double of her career with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Illinois State ended the game with 30 rebounds, including 10 on the offensive end, as the 30 rebounds by the Redbirds bested the Shockers by one. ISU connected on 47 percent of its shot attempts, while WSU shot 49 percent for the game.
The two teams exchanged baskets to start the game, as Russell carried the Redbirds through the first half. In the first 11 minutes of the game, Russell was 9-of-10 from the field and poured in 18 of Illinois State's first 22 points. Wichita State used an 8-0 run to jump ahead by 11 points, 33-22, with 6:29 to play, while the Redbirds couldn't connect from the floor for over two minutes. Then, Smith brought life back to ISU, netting five-straight points and cutting WSU's lead to six, 33-27.
The momentum stayed with the Redbirds, as they used a 12-5 run over the final 4:13 of the first half to get within one of the Shockers, 40-39, at the half. In the run, Puni and Smith both connected for four points, while Candace Sykes and Russell each made a jumper.
At the half, Russell led all scorers with 20 points, shooting 91 percent from the field, while Smith added 12 points, going 4-of-5 from the floor. Four different Redbirds grabbed two rebounds in the opening half, while ISU had a slight edge over WSU on the boards, bringing down 12, which was one more than the Shockers. Both teams shot over 50 percent from the floor in the first half. Illinois State connected on 70 percent of its shot attempts, while Wichita State found the bottom of the net on 53 percent of its field goals.
ISU opened the half with an 8-2 run to take a 47-42 lead with 17:33 to play. The Redbirds didn't make a field goal attempt for over five minutes, while the Shockers went on a 6-0 run, including a three from the top of the key, to take a 52-49 lead with 12:29 to play. After ISU's scoring drought, the two teams traded baskets until WSU took a seven-point lead, 64-57, with 7:30 to play, but Illinois State answered again and battled back to get within two.
Both teams were scoreless for over three minutes, until Smith made a layup and got fouled on the play with 1:11 to play. She made the free throw, as ISU trailed by one with 1:10 to play, 66-65. Wichita State got an offensive rebound and the put back with 23 seconds to play, going up by three, 68-65. A late free throw by the Shockers secured the win for WSU, as the Redbirds fell, 69-65, in the championship game.
For her performance in the tournament and cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of 3.96 in psychology, Chloe Nelson received the MVC Elite 18 Award. The MVC Elite 18 Award is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA, competing at the finals at each of the MVC's 18 team championships.
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