Redbirds Host Villanova in Second Round of WNIT


March 16, 2011

Date Sunday, March 18

2:05 p.m.

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Game Notes Illinois State // Villanova

NORMAL, Ill. - A late three by Candace Sykes in ISU's win over Central Michigan Thursday was enough for the victory and advanced Illinois State to the second round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). In the second round, the Redbirds will host Villanova at 2:05 p.m., Sunday on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena.

Illinois State is making its fourth-straight appearance in the WNIT, advancing to the semifinals in each of the last three seasons. ISU is 11-3 in its last three WNIT appearances, including a 9-2 record at Redbird Arena. Sunday will mark the first time in program history that the Redbirds and the Wildcats will compete on the hardwood.

The winner of Sunday's game will play the winner of the Colorado and South Dakota game.

Tickets for the game are available for purchase and are $11 for general admission and $8 for youth under the age of 18. Reggie's Kids Club members must purchase a ticket to get into the game. Illinois State students will receive free admission to the game. Red Alert members need to present their passes at the door and all other students should pick up a ticket prior to the game. Tickets may be purchased in person at the Illinois State Athletic Ticket Office in Redbird Arena, over the phone by calling 309/438-8000 or online at The ticket office will open at 10 a.m., on Sunday. Fans can also purchase tickets at the door.

Sunday's second-round game marks the first time in program history that the Redbirds and the Wildcats will play on the hardwood. Despite never playing Villanova, Illinois State is no stranger to facing Big East schools, as ISU holds an 18-16 record over current opponents from the Big East Conference.

Illinois State is making its 11th appearance in the Postseason WNIT (1980, 1982, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1996, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) and has an 18-16 all-time record in the tournament. The Redbirds' 2012 WNIT at-large bid marks the fifth appearance for ISU in postseason play in the last six seasons. In the last four WNIT appearances, the Redbirds have a record of 12-4 during that span. ISU is 11-2 all-time in WNIT games in Redbird Arena.

Illinois State's berth in the 2012 Postseason WNIT puts the Redbirds in the postseason for the sixth-consecutive season. ISU made WNIT trips in five of the last six years and appeared in the NCAA Tournament in 2008. ISU's six-year postseason run is tied for the longest in school history, matching the six-straight trips from 1980-85.

Junior guard Candace Sykes has played a crucial part for the Redbirds offensively and on the boards during the 2011-12 season, which is why she leads the team with six double-doubles. The St. Anne, Ill., native recorded her second-straight double-double in ISU's first round WNIT win over Central Michigan (March 15), 69-68. In the victory, Sykes had a career-high 23 points and brought down 10 boards. During the 2012 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, Sykes had 17 points and 11 boards in a loss to Drake (March 9). It isn't the first time this season Sykes has had back-to-back double-doubles. She also did it Jan. 27 and Jan. 29 on a road swing at Wichita State and Missouri State, respectively.

A late three-pointer by junior Candace Sykes with 17 seconds left on the clock propelled Illinois State to a 69-68 victory over Central Michigan Thursday night in the first round of the WNIT. With just 7:36 left in the game, ISU took a 12-point lead, but Central Michigan rallied back and went on a 19-4 run over the next six-plus minutes to re-take the lead at 67-64. A layup by Russell with 1:09 remaining cut the lead to one at 67-66 for the Redbirds. Sykes hit her fifth three-pointer of the game to give ISU the lead back at 69-67 with 17 seconds left on the clock. Bracey had a chance to tie the game for CMU at the free throw line after being fouled on a layup attempt with eight seconds left, but could only make the first of two shots as Russell rebounded the miss. Russell was then fouled with three seconds left, which sent her to the line for the one-and-one. Russell missed the first shot and a last-second heave by the Chippewas fell short to give the Redbirds the victory.

The Illinois State women's basketball team finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference, after being selected to finish sixth in the preseason poll. After the Redbirds unexpected performance, the Valley named junior transfer Jamie Russell Newcomer of the Year and head coach Stephanie Glance Coach of the Year for the 2011-12 season. Glance is the third Redbird coach to earn the prestigious Coach of the Year honor. Glance led ISU to a second-place finish in conference play and led the Redbirds to their sixth-straight season finishing in the top-two of the Valley regular season standings. Through two seasons at the helm of the Redbirds, Glance has led ISU to a record of 42-22. Russell, who transferred to Illinois State from Wisconsin, is the first Redbird player to earn the Newcomer of the Year honors, as the junior transfer played a crucial role for ISU on both sides of the ball. Russell ranked second on the team with 13.5 points per game. She had 17 double-digit scoring efforts in ISU's last 20 games, including 10-straight double-digit performances.

For the fifth time in the last six years, Illinois State was upset in the State Farm MVC Tournament as a top-two seed, failing to reach the championship game. The second-seeded Redbirds were beaten by seventh-seeded Drake in the quarterfinals,
56-54, March 9. Drake shot 52 percent from the field in the game compared to Illinois State's 38 percent. ISU had an eight-point lead with just under 11 minutes to play, but Drake used a 14-4 run to regain the lead, 52-50, with just under two minutes to play.
The Redbirds tied the game off of a jumper by Marley Hall, but a shot by Kyndal Clark with eight seconds left put Drake up by two, 56-54. Illinois State had one last chance, but a Redbird turnover didn't allow a shot to get off, as ISU fell to Drake, 56-54.

Illinois State finished the regular season in sole possession of second place in the Valley standings. The Redbirds finished in the top-two in the Valley regular season in each of the last six years. ISU earned the No. 2 seed in the State Farm MVC Tournament, marking the fourth time the Redbirds competed as No. 2. In 1997, Illinois State lost a quarterfinal game against Wichita State, 81-53. In 2007, the Redbirds beat Bradley, 75-60, before losing to Creighton in the semifinals, 59-56. During the 2011 tournament, ISU lost to Indiana State, 80-51.

Four Redbirds received All-Valley honors and three of the four players received Valley recognition for the first time in their careers. Katie Broadway and Jamie Russell were named to the All-Valley First Team. The last time ISU had two players on the first team was during the 2009-10 season. Russell was also selected to the All-Defensive Team. Candace Sykes earned accolades when she was named to the All-Valley Honorable Mention Team and Chloe Nelson was an All-Valley Honorable Mention selection on the All-Scholar Team. Illinois State has had three players named All-Valley in each of the last four years and has had a player on the Valley All-Defensive and Scholar-Athlete teams in six-consecutive seasons.

Katie Broadway was 1-of-5 beyond the arc in ISU's victory Saturday (March 3) over Southern Illinois, 72-50. With the three, Broadway has made 86 three-pointers so far this season, which are the most threes made by a Redbird player in a single season. The previous record was held by Jenny Schmidt, who made 77 threes during the 1997-98 season. The senior guard is shooting 36.9 percent beyond the arc through 31 games.  Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.