Redbirds Host Lady Bears Thursday on Comcast

Feb. 11, 2009


 MISSOURI STATE (6-16, 2-9 MVC) at ILLINOIS STATE (18-4, 9-1 MVC)
 Date  Thursday, Feb. 12
 Game Time  7:05 p.m.

 Normal, Ill. (Redbird Arena)

 Radio  WJBC
(R.C. McBride - Play-by-Play | Mike Matthews - Color commentary)

(Kurt Pegler - Play-by-Play l Bob Morris - Color Commentary)

 Live Stats

Nicolle Lewis – C – ILLINOIS STATE
Over the last eight games, Lewis is averaging 10.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. She is coming off a double-double of 14 points, on a perfect 7-for-7 shooting performance from the field, and 10 rebounds to go along with a season-high six blocks against Indiana State. She had another double-double with a season-best 16 points and 10 rebounds against the Lady Bears four weeks ago.

Garrison has continued to fuel the Lady Bears, leading the team in virtually every category. She is the top-freshman scorer in the Valley, averaging 16.5 ppg, and has turned her play up during the conference season, ranking second with 17.1 ppg in Valley play. She had 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks earlier this season against ISU.

Illinois State has lost at least four games in the second half of the season in each of the last five years … A win tonight would tie ISU’s longest winning streak against Missouri State (six games) … The Lady Bears have not won in Redbird Arena since 2005.

Missouri State leads the all-time series with Illinois State, 30-25. The series began in 1984 and the two teams have played at least twice every season since then. The Redbirds dominated the series early on, winning 12 of the first 15 match-ups. After that, Missouri State posted a 26-6 record, including 11-straight wins at one point. ISU has won seven of the last eight meetings, sweeping the last two season series. Robin Pingeton is 7-6 all-time against Missouri State.

ISU’s starting five combined for 72 points in an 83-70 win over Missouri State Jan. 19. Shala Jackson had a career-high 21 points, Nicolle Lewis recorded a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Kristi Cirone nearly achieved a triple-double with 20 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. Ashleen Bracey added a season-best 12 rebounds and a career-high seven assists. The Redbirds had 16 offensive rebounds and 24 second-chance points in the first half to build a 45-30 lead. Missouri State’s starting five was subbed out all at once early in the second half, and the Lady Bear reserves cut the deficit down to single digits, before a 22-9 Redbird run sealed the win.

Illinois State swept the season series with Missouri State last season, winning the games by an average of 24 points per game and shooting better than 50 percent. Maggie Krick and Kristi Cirone both averaged better than 20 points per game against the Lady Bears in 2008. Krick scored 25 points and tied the ISU single-game record with seven three-pointers in ISU’s final game at the Hammons Student Center last year. Cirone posted 21 points, four assists and four steals when the Lady Bears came to Redbird Arena. Krick also averaged six rebounds per game against Missouri State last season, outdone slightly by Kenyatta Shelton (7.0 rpg) and Shala Jackson (8.0 rpg).

To have a winning percentage that ranks in the top-25 in the nation, a team needs to have at least one considerable winning streak. Illinois State has had two this season, winning nine-straight earlier in the year and currently riding a seven-game winning streak. It is the second time in program history the Redbirds have had two winning streaks of at least seven games in the same season, winning nine- and 13-straight games in 1980-81. The nine-game winning streak was tied for the sixth-longest in program history and marked the third-consecutive year that ISU has won nine-in-a-row. The Redbirds’ current seven-consecutive wins have all come in Valley play, the seventh-longest conference streak in program history, and their eight-straight home wins is tied for the sixth longest home winning streak.

When Illinois State is inside Redbird Arena, the Redbirds are almost unstoppable. ISU is 8-0 at home this season, winning seven of the games by double-digits. ISU averaging 74.0 points per game at home and allowing just 55.4 for a scoring margin of 18.6. The Redbirds are shooting 45.3 percent and averaging 43.9 rebounds per game, while holding their opponents to 33.5 percent shooting and 33.2 rebounds per game. ISU’s eight-straight home wins to start the year is the third-longest streak in program history.

Let the countdown begin. Senior Kristi Cirone moved into second place in career scoring at ISU with her six first-half points against Eastern Illinois and now is poised to make a run at Cathy Boswell at the top of the list. Cirone currently has 1,894 points, putting her 111 behind Boswell’s 2,005. With at least 9 games left on the schedule, Cirone would have to average 12.3 points per game to become ISU’s new scoring queen. To break the record in the final home game of the year against UNI March 1, she needs to average 18.5 ppg over the next six games.