Redbirds Hold Off NWMSU, 55-50, in Exhibition Action

Nov. 3, 2013

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NORMAL, Ill. - Taking the court for the first time in the Barb Smith era, the Illinois State women's basketball team defeated Division II-institution Northwest Missouri State, 55-50, in an exhibition game Sunday afternoon at Redbird Arena.

Chloe Nelson led the Redbirds with 16 points, while Stekara Hall posted 13. Alison Seberger grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds in 29 minutes of action, which surpassed the 27 total minutes she played all of last season. The Redbird defense limited the Bearcats to just 36.5 percent shooting, while also forcing 20 turnovers. Hall led the charge with four steals, while Nelson notched three.

The defense is what set the tone for the Redbirds early, as ISU limited the Bearcats to 0-for-5 shooting and forced two turnovers, while jumping out to a 5-0 advantage on a three-pointer from Katy Winge and fast-break layup from Nelson. The Bearcats got on the board at the 16:09 mark with a layup, making it 5-2 at the first media timeout.

NWMSU's first points came in a stretch during which the Redbirds went scoreless for 2:53, allowing the Bearcats to climb back within one at 5-4. A Mackenzie Freeman three-pointer at the 13:58 mark made it 8-5 ISU, before NWMSU answered with four-straight points to gain its first and only lead of the game on a jumper from Ariel Easton at the 12:48 mark.

Nelson ended another nearly three-minute long scoring drought by driving through the NWMSU defense and finishing with a floater, putting the Redbirds back on top, 10-9, and sparking a 9-0 run. Hall and Nelson each tallied layups, while Seberger nailed a three in transition to make it 17-9 Redbirds and force a NWMSU timeout at the 8:56 mark.

The Bearcats ended a 4:27 scoring drought, during which they shot 0-for-6 and committed three turnovers, with a layup off an in-bounds play to make it 17-11 with 8:21 left in the first half. From there, both teams' offenses picked up, with both the Redbirds and Bearcats trading baskets until a NWMSU layup forced an ISU timeout with the score 23-17 and 5:37 remaining in the half.

The basket began an 8-0 Bearcat run, which culminated with a jumper at the 2:15 mark to even the score at 23-23. Hall responded with seven-straight points for the Redbirds, including a three with 1:58 that snapped a 0-for-5, 4:17 scoring drought, to send the Redbirds into halftime with a 30-23 advantage.

Both teams started the second half much better offensively, with each trading baskets early on. The Illinois State advantage hovered between 10 and five for the first 9:29 of the period, which included a desperation three-pointer from Northwest's Meridde Scott, as the shot clock expired to make it 40-35 with 12:49 left in the game.

After a scoreless next 2:20 for both teams, the Bearcats pulled within two on a three from Ashleigh Nelson at the 10:31 mark. Hall was there to regain control for the Redbirds again, however, scoring in the lane to make it 42-38 and end a 6-0 NWMSU run. Nelson converted a layup in transition to put the Redbirds back up by six, 44-38, and force a NWMSU timeout with 9:45 remaining.

Oliver continued the Redbird surge out of the timeout with a jumper to make it 46-38. That would be ISU's last point for the next 6:08, however, as the Bearcats fought all the way back to tie the game late in the second half, as an 8-0 NWMSU run evened the score at 46-46 with 4:29 remaining. ISU responded with a 6-0 run that featured four points from Maddie Oliver to regain control and seal the victory.

ISU officially kicks off the 2013-14 season Wednesday, Nov. 13 at Northern Kentucky. After another road game at DePaul, Nov. 18, the Redbirds will return to Doug Collins Court on Nov. 23 against Colorado State.

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