ISU Survives and Advances; Downs Marquette, 51-50
Kenyatta Shelton
Kenyatta Shelton

March 26, 2009

Final Stats |  Photo Gallery 

NORMAL, Ill. - Despite ending the game on a six-minute drought without a made field goal, the Illinois State women's basketball team advanced in the Women's National Invitation Tournament with a 51-50 win over Marquette in front of 1,953 spectators on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena Thursday night. Kristi Cirone led the Redbirds with 23 points, including ISU's last six points, all on free throws, as Illinois State (26-7) will host Indiana in the quarterfinals Sunday at 2:05 p.m.

After forcing seven ties in the first half, the two teams continued to battle in the second half. ISU appeared to take control with a 7-0 run, including five points by Cirone, early in the second half, that provided a 36-31 lead. After a 7-2 Golden Eagle (17-16) run, the game was tied, 38-38. The Redbirds and the Eagles were tied again, at 45-45, after Nicolle Lewis sank a shot from the wing, which proved to be ISU's last made field goal.

Marquette took a three-point lead, but the Golden Eagles also went cold. Cirone added four-straight free throws for a small Redbird run that gave ISU a 49-48 lead with 1:56 left in the game. Marquette's Angel Robinson put the visitors back on top with a field goal at the 1:07 mark. ISU took the lead for good when Cirone was fouled under the basket with nine seconds remaining and responded by sinking both free throws. She finished with a 13-for-13 effort from the line. Robinson had a good look in the final second, but the shot rimmed out and the Redbirds advanced.

Both teams endured slow starts offensively, shooting a combined 1-for-12 from the field in the first four minutes of the game. The Redbirds trailed by only one point, 4-3, at the first media timeout, but all three points were the result of made free throws. ISU didn't make its first field goal until the 12:15 mark in the first half, after missing its first 10 shots. The Redbirds ended the first half shooting 19.4 percent, which was 15 percentage points lower than their previous low for a game's first 20 minutes.

Cirone broke the shooting drought and scored six-straight ISU points, as the Redbirds trailed, 10-9, heading into the second media timeout of the first half. After 10 lead changes, Marquette took the game's largest lead to that point with a three-point edge, 14-11, with 8:51 left. The advantage was short-lived as Kenyatta Shelton scored off the post and Cirone stole the ensuing in-bounds pass, before passing to Maggie Krick for a wide-open three. The series of events gave ISU a 16-14 lead with seven minutes remaining.

Marquette countered and took a 22-18 lead, but the Redbirds responded with a 7-0 run, that included five points from the free throw line, as ISU took a 25-22 lead. The Redbirds appeared to be headed into halftime with the lead, but Marquette's Erin Monfre sank a three-pointer with two seconds left to force the seventh tie of the half. Monfre's three was the first made trey by the Golden Eagles in the game, after starting with seven-straight misses.

Cirone was the only Redbird in double-digit scoring. Shelton also added a career-best 12 rebounds to lead the Redbirds in a game that featured 21 lead changes and 15 ties. ISU shot 26.8 percent for the game and scored less than 60 points for the first time since the second game of the season. Robinson led Marquette with 15 points.

GoRedbirds.com: Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, TRC gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.