Wichita State Elevates the Challenge for Redbirds
Lori Trumblee's 15 points included seven straight at the end of the win over MSU.
Lori Trumblee's 15 points included seven straight at the end of the win over MSU.

Jan. 21, 2006

Normal, Ill. - For junior center Lori Trumblee, her first start as a Redbird was a challenge to which she responded with 15 points, including seven straight in a key late-game stretch of Illinois State's 64-55 win Friday over Missouri State. Her second start will elevate that challenge as Missouri Valley Conference upstart Wichita State and 6-foot-4 Antionette Wells visit Redbird Arena at 2:05 p.m. Sunday.

Redbird coach Robin Pingeton decided to start Trumblee after the 6-foot-3 transfer from Murray State delivered 18 solid minutes in Sunday's game at Bradley. Trumblee became the 11th different Redbird player to start a game this season. With injuries to center Nicolle Lewis and guard Ashley Sandstead figuring in the mix, Pingeton has used seven different starting lineups in the last nine games.

Trumblee responded by hitting 6-of-8 field goals, including her first collegiate three-pointer. Trumblee, who averaged 8.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in two seasons as a regular at Murray State, attempted just three treys in 384 field goal attempts at Murray. She sat out the 2004-05 season to satisfy NCAA residency requirements, and was behind other players in the rotation until recently.

"We knew what Lori could do when she came here," said Pingeton. "She got into a bit of a slump and we had other players doing the job (early in the season)."

Her first trey at Illinois State came after Wichita State sliced a 10-point Redbird lead down to 44-42 with 5:18 left in the game. During its recent six-game losing streak, the `Birds had stumbled in late minutes of close games. Not this time. Trumblee's three-pointer put ISU ahead by seven. She added four more points to her personal 7-0 run with a baseline jumper and two free throws, as ISU extended the lead to nine heading into the final three minutes.

The Redbird defense was exceptional, and began with the job sophomore Tiffany Hudson did on Kari Koch, the nation's No. 2 scorer, early in the game. Koch made just one of her first seven shots with Hudson the primary defender. Hudson didn't score, but her seven rebounds and four assists--without a turnover--had a strong bearing on ISU's first win in 32 days.

On Sunday, Trumblee and the Redbirds, 6-9, 1-5 in the Valley, will face one of the Valley's best post players and, arguably, the league's most improved team. WSU had won just 15 games total in the past two seasons, but is 9-5 overall, 3-3 in the Valley entering Sunday's game.

Wells, the Valley's rebounding leader, averages nearly a double-double, 12.6 points and 9.9 rebounds. She has impressed the league with efforts including a 20-rebound night in a Shocker win over Evansville. Aces coach Tricia Cullop is a Wells fan, and appreciates the job former Wisconsin and Northern Illinois head coach Jane Albright is doing at WSU.

"Wichita State is a much improved team over last year. Wells is much improved. She is doing a terrific job of creating some space and getting around people. She is one of the quicker, most athletic post players in the league," said Cullop.

The Shockers feature versatile forward Kiki Stephens, who leads the team with 14.7 points per game. The WSU guards are freshman Whitney Rice, who trails only ISU's Kristi Cirone in assists for first-year players, and Toledo transfer Lexee McDonnell, who is a key player in a defense which leads the Valley in steals. WSU's 72 points per game are second in the Valley to league-leader Indiana State, and a 14-point-per-game improvement over last season.

"We expect that Wichita State will come right at us," said Pingeton. "In the Valley, it's so balanced that every team is tough and you have to expect a dogfight every night."