Sykes, Redbirds Edge Out In-State Rival Illinois, 69-68
Dec. 21, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Candace Sykes netted 22 points, sinking six shots from beyond the arc, as she led the Illinois State (7-4) women's basketball team over Illinois (6-5), 69-68, Friday night at the Assembly Hall. Sykes was 8-of-17 from the field, shooting 50 percent from three-point range.
Janae Smith added 13 points, while Jamie Russell and Chloe Nelson scored nine and eight points, respectively. Smith and Sykes both pulled down seven boards, and Alexis Foley grabbed six rebounds. Illinois State shot 44 percent from the field for the game compared to Illinois' 39 percent. The Redbirds brought down seven more rebounds than the Illini, 41-34.
Illinois State took a three-point lead, 7-4, off of back-to-back baskets, including a three by Sykes, but the Redbirds hit a dry spell, as they were held scoreless for nearly six minutes. During that time, Illinois went on a 9-0 run, taking a 14-7 advantage with just under 12 minutes to play in the opening half.
The Redbirds regrouped and went on a 9-3 run to close the Illini's lead to one, 20-19, with 6:04 remaining before the break. Sykes hit a three to give ISU its first lead of the game, 26-24, with just under four minutes to go before halftime. Illinois hit back-to-back threes, but Sykes answered with a jumper and a trey to regain the lead, 31-28. Smith completed the and-one play with less than 30 seconds to go in the half, sending the Redbirds into the locker room with a five-point advantage, 34-29. Illinois State ended the half with an 8-0 run.
After the first half, Sykes led the Redbirds with 11 points, while Foley scored seven. Sykes and Foley both grabbed five boards. Smith added five points and three rebounds for ISU. Illinois State shot 46 percent from the field compared to Illinois' 32 percent. The Redbirds brought down 23 boards, while the Illini pulled down 17.
Illinois hit two-straight threes to open the second half, but Illinois State answered with seven-straight points to regain the lead, 41-35, early in the second half. The Illini hit six-straight points to tie the game, 41-41, with 16:13 to play in the game. ¬The two teams continued to trade baskets until Illinois scored eight-straight points, 54-47, with 10:45 to go in the game.
Nelson netted five-straight points to get Illinois State back within two, 54-52, but Illinois responded with a run of its own, increasing its lead to eight, 60-52, with just over eight minutes to play. Sykes sank eight-straight points for ISU, including two threes, to get the Redbirds back within two, 62-60, with five minutes left to play. The two teams exchanged points in the final minutes of the game, but a pair of free throws by Russell proved to be the difference. Illinois missed pair of free throws late in the game and a last second shot, as Illinois State secured the 69-68 victory.
ISU will be back on the road to take on Butler, Dec. 30, in its final non-conference game of the 2012-13 season. The Redbirds and the Bulldogs will face off on the hardwood at 1 p.m. (CST).
GoRedbirds.com: Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, TRC gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.