ISU Hosts IUPUI in First Round of WNIT Thursday

March 20, 2013

Game 34 | illinois state vs iupui
Date: Thursday, March 21 at 7:05 p.m.
Location: Normal, Ill. | Redbird Arena
Game Notes: Illinois State | IUPUI
Live Stats: GameTracker



NORMAL, Ill. - After falling to Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Championship game, the Illinois State women’s basketball team earned an automatic bid into the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) and will welcome IUPUI to Redbird Arena, Thursday, at 7:05 p.m.

Illinois State is making its 12th appearance in the Postseason WNIT and has a 19-17 all-time record in the tournament. In the most recent four WNIT appearances, the Redbirds have a record of 12-4 during that span. ISU is 10-3 all-time in WNIT games at Redbird Arena.

Illinois State leads the all-time series with IUPUI, 2-0. ISU won the only two games in series history in back-to-back seasons. The Redbirds defeated the Jaguars at Redbird Arena on Nov. 29, 2002, by 17 points, 77-60, before facing IUPUI in Indianapolis the next season on Dec. 16, 2003. ISU won that game by a margin of 14 points, 81-67.

Illinois State is making its 12th appearance in the Postseason WNIT (1980, 1982, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1996, 2007, 2009, 2010,
2011, 2012, 2013) and has a 19-17 all-time record in the tournament. The Redbirds’ 2013 WNIT automatic bid marks the eighth appearance for ISU in postseason play in the last nine seasons. In the last four WNIT appearances, the Redbirds have a record of 12-4 during that span. ISU is 10-3 all-time in WNIT games at Redbird Arena.

Illinois State’s berth in the 2013 Postseason WNIT puts the Redbirds in the postseason for the seventh-consecutive season. ISU made
WNIT trips in six of the last seven years and appeared in the NCAA Tournament in 2008. ISU’s seven-year postseason run is the longest run in school history. The previous best was six-straight trips from 1980-85.

Dynamic Duo
In the Valley Tournament Championship game between ISU and Wichita State (March 17), the Redbirds were led by Jamie Russell and Janae Smith. At the half, Russell poured in 20 points, while Smith added 12. In the Redbirds’ 39 points at halftime, all but seven came from Russell and Smith. At one point during the first half, Russell had 18 of ISU’s 22 points, as she shot 91 percent from the field (10-of-11) in the opening half. To end the game, Russell netted 27 points, three shy of her career-high, while Smith tallied 19 points, adding up to 46 of ISU’s 69 points. The duo’s effort wasn’t enough, as ISU fell to WSU, 69-65.

Third Time
For the third time of her career, Brianna Puni recorded a double-double with 10 rebounds and 12 points in the MVC Tournament Championship game (March 17). Puni shot 57 percent from the field, connecting on 4-of-7 attempts and pulled down three offensive boards and 10 on the defensive end of the floor. Puni also found the bottom of the net on four free throws in career-high 35 minutes played.

Illinois State in Valley tournament title game
For the eighth time in program history, the Redbirds played for a conference tournament title, as they took on Wichita State (March 17). Illinois State looked to capture its fifth Valley Tournament title, but came up short, as ISU fell to WSU, 69-65. The Redbirds are 4-4 when playing in the championship game.

Illinois State has a 20-19 all-time record in the Gateway/Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. ISU’s 20 wins are the fourth-most in conference history, behind Missouri State (36), Drake (35) and Creighton (23). The Redbirds have won four championships, behind Missouri State (9) and Drake (5). In the 26 years that conference tournaments have been held, Illinois State has reached the championship game eight times.

45 minutes
For the first time this season, the Redbirds needed more time to grab a win, as they went into overtime against Creighton in the semifinal round of the 2013 Valley Tournament (March 16). ISU battled back from a nine-point deficit to Creighton in the second half thanks to a 9-0 run that lasted over five minutes, to tie the game with just over two minutes to play, while CU missed eight-straight field goal attempts to end regulation in a tie, 55-55. ISU scored nine points in the OT period, while CU netted six, giving ISU the 64-61 victory and ticket to the championship game.

For the second-straight game of the conference tournament, Candace Sykes recorded a double-double , as she helped the Redbirds secure a 64-61 overtime win against Creighton (March 16). In the game, Sykes poured in 18 points and collected 12 rebounds, leading ISU in both categories. The night before against Bradley (March 15), Sykes had 13 boards and 10 points. The back-to-back double-double performances mark the fifth and sixth double-doubles of the season for Sykes and the second time she has had two-straight double-doubles this season.

In ISU’s 64-61 overtime win against the Bluejays (March 16), eight players scored for the Redbirds, with seven tallying points in the first half. With the eight players scoring, ISU had 26 bench points, compared to CU’s four points. Illinois State also had the advantage on the boards, pulling down seven more boards than Creighton with 40. It was the 21st time this season ISU has recorded 40 or more rebounds in a game and the sixth-straight contest with 40 or more boards, beginning against Wichita State (Feb. 28).

After making only two three pointers in the first half, Creighton connected on eight in the second half and overtime. The Bluejays, whom lead the country in made three pointers per game with 9.4 per game, came out hot from beyond the arc in the second half. CU hit 4-of-5 from three-point range to start the second half and take its first lead of the game, but a dry spell by Creighton gave ISU an opportunity to go on a run. From the end of regulation into the overtime period, CU missed 12-straight field goal attempts.

For the past two seasons, the Redbirds were eliminated from the Valley Tournament after the quarterfinal round, and after three-straight losses in the tournament, Illinois State grabbed a win and advanced to the semifinal round of the 2013 MVC Tournament, after defeating Bradley, 59-48, Friday at Family Arena. In the win, four ISU players recorded double-digit performances. It also marked the first Valley Tournament win of head coach Stephanie Glance’s career. Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, WSF gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.