Redbirds Edge Out Illini, 53-51, To Advance in WNIT
March 28, 2010
NORMAL, Ill. - Illinois State was defeated in its fourth game of the season by Illinois on their home court, but the Redbirds got even with their in-state foes Sunday with a thrilling 53-51 victory over the Illini in front of 4,459 fans, the second-largest crowd for a women's game in Redbird Arena history.
With the victory, Illinois State (28-7, 16-2 MVC) tied the school record for wins in a season, matching the 28 wins by the 1980-81 Redbirds, and set a new standard for postseason wins with four. The win also snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Illini (19-15, 7-11 Big Ten) and sent the Redbirds into the semifinals of the WNIT for the second-straight season.
Katie Broadway hit the game-winning three-pointer with 19 seconds left to give her 11 points on the game and the Redbirds the win. Nicolle Lewis led all scorers with 14 points to go along with nine rebounds and Maggie Krick added 12 points and nine caroms.
The Illini jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, before Broadway connected on a jumper to give the Redbirds their first points of the game. Illinois would extend that lead to 10-6, but Illinois State answered with a quick 8-0 run, capped off by a three-pointer by Broadway, to take a 14-10 lead at the 14:45 mark.
The Redbirds would extend that lead to 18-12 on a layup by Lewis with 10:37 on the clock, but the Illini quickly cut into that lead when Jenna Smith connected from three-point range in transition to cut the lead to 18-15. Two free throws by Ashleen Bracey quickly extended the lead to 20-15, but the Illini answered once again with a jumper from Lydia McCully to cut the lead back to 20-17 with just over nine minutes remaining in the half.
Three-straight points from Krick then brought the lead back to six points at 23-17 for the Redbirds, but Smith answered with a pair of free throws to cut the lead to four points after a being fouled in the paint. A jumper by Krick and a three-pointer from Alexis Jenkins then gave the Redbirds their largest lead of the half at 28-19, before the Illini answered with five quick points cut the deficit to 28-24 on a three-pointer by McCully.
ISU scored the last two points of the half, when Lewis was undercut while attempting to grab a defensive rebound and then hit both of her free throws in the bonus to give the Redbirds a 30-24 lead at halftime. Illinois State shot 45.5 percent from the field (10-for-22) in the first 20 minutes of play and held Illinois to just 31 percent (9-for-29) shooting, including a 2-for-9 effort from long range.
The Illini started the half on a 9-2 run to take a 33-32 lead on a jumper by McCully, but the Redbirds took a 34-33 lead on a jumper by Lewis before the Illini knotted the game at 34-34 at the 15:19 mark. The score would not stay tied for long though, as Krick connected from three-point range on ISU's next possession to give the Redbirds a 37-34 lead. A jumper by Karisma Penn cut the ISU lead to just one at the 14:30, but a three-pointer from Broadway extended the lead to 40-36 just over a minute later.
A pair of free throws from Kersten Magrum and a jumper by Penn tied the score at 40-40 soon after for the Illini, but once again the Redbirds answered as Shala Jackson picked up a blocked Emily Hanley shot and laid it in as the shot clock expired to make the score 42-40 in favor of ISU with 10:36 left.
Illinois tied the game two more times over the next four minutes of play, before the Redbirds scored three-straight points on a free throw by Amanda Clifton and a jumper by Lewis to take a 49-46 lead with just over five minutes remaining. The game stayed close until Smith nailed a three-pointer from the top of the key with 1:43 remaining to give Illinois a 51-50 lead.
Both teams failed to connect on their ensuing possessions and the Redbirds got the ball back with 39 seconds remaining. Krick fired up a three-pointer and missed, but Broadway corralled the rebound and nailed her three-point attempt to put the Redbirds up 53-51 with 19 seconds remaining. The Illini had two good looks at the basket, but the Redbird defense held strong for the two-point win.
Illinois State will face California in the WNIT semifinals Thursday, April 1, on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena. Game time between the Redbirds and the Bears is set for 7:05 p.m.
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