Redbirds Win Season Opener in Preseason WNIT, 62-45
Nov. 9, 2012
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - Jamie Russell scored a game-high 20 points as the Illinois State women's basketball team (1-0) opened its regular season with a 62-45 victory over Morehead State (0-1) in opening-round action of the preseason Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) Friday night at the Shirk Center in Bloomington, Ill. The victory marks the fourth-consecutive year the Redbirds have opened the season with a win.
Russell's 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting paced two Illinois State players in double-figures. Maddie Oliver added 12 points, seven rebounds and one block, helping the Redbirds shoot 42-percent from the field as a team. True freshman Octavia Crump led all players with 11 rebounds and added seven points. Illinois State made 22 baskets on 13 assists, including a game-best six assists from Russell.
The Redbirds outrebounded Morehead State 40-23 and limited the Eagles to 37-percent shooting, including just 6-for-24 from beyond the three point arc. ISU trailed only once, by two points, early in the first half.
Leading 31-26 at halftime, true freshman Alexis Foley connected on consecutive three-point baskets to open the second half, extending the Redbirds lead to 37-26 and sparking a 9-2 run.
A three-point basket by Morehead State's Almesha Jones made it 40-35 Redbirds with just over 14 minutes to play, but the Eagles would never cut the deficit to fewer than five points. Janae Smith tallied a key block with 12:53 left in the game, getting the ball up court to Russell, who hit a wide-open layup, setting Illinois State on an 8-1 run that swung the game's momentum for good.
Illinois State connected on 14-of-18 free throws, including 8-of-11 in the second half, and kept Morehead State without a score over the final 2:41 of the game.
Terrice Robinson paced Morehead State with 16 points and Jones added 15 with a team-best four rebounds. Robinson's 12-footer with 12:34 to play in the first half gave Morehead State its only lead of the night, 13-11. Baskets from Russell, Crump and Oliver sparked a 13-2 Illinois State run that made it 24-15 Redbirds with 6:42 to go in the opening half.
Russell closed the scoring in the opening half hitting a jumper with 1:36 to go, making it 31-26 Redbirds going into the locker room. The senior guard led all scorers with 13 points at the break, followed by Oliver's eight.
With the victory, Illinois State advances to the second round of the preseason WNIT and will next play at Big Ten foe Iowa Sunday in Iowa City, Iowa. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m.
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