March 31, 2010
REDBIRDS BACK IN WNIT SEMIFINALS
Illinois State is back in the WNIT Semifinals for the second-consecutive season. The Redbirds are the sixth team since 1998 to reach the WNIT Semifinals in consecutive seasons. ISU's four postseason wins this year are the most in school history.
Robin Pingeton is 8-2 in the WNIT ... ISU is averaging just 60.0 points per game in the WNIT, after averaging 71.2 points per game in the regular season ... ISU snapped an eight-game losing streak against Illinois ... Illinois State never trailed against Purdue or Kansas ... Illinois State beat Kansas in the third round for the first time ever and snapped a 12-game losing streak against Big 12 teams ... ISU's 20-point win over Kansas was its largest margin of victory in a WNIT game since beating Utah by 21 points in 1984 ... ISU's 10 three-pointers against Kansas were the second-most by the Redbirds in a WNIT game ... ISU had five players score in double-figures against Kansas, a first for a WNIT game.
WNIT TOP PERFORMERS
Nicolle Lewis leads Illinois State in scoring (14.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg) in the WNIT ... She scored 21 points against Purdue, the most by a Redbird this postseason, including 17 in the second half ... Ashleen Bracey is second in both scoring (12.0 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 rpg) ... Bracey and Lewis each had a double-double against Butler, becoming the first Redbird teammates to record double-doubles in one WNIT game ... Katie Broadway is shooting 47.8 percent from three-point range (11-23) ... She made four three-pointers against Kansas and three each against Butler and Illinois.
REDBIRDS TIE WINS RECORD
With the 53-51 win over Illinois in the WNIT Semifinals, Illinois State tied the school's single-season record with its 28th win. The Redbirds won 28 games in the 1980-81 season, when they finished 15th in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) National Tournament.
REDBIRDS-GOLDEN BEARS SERIES
Illinois State and California have split two all-time meetings. The Golden Bears won the first game at home, 78-71, Dec. 15, 1987. ISU then beat Cal in Redbird Arena, 81-61, Nov. 25, 1990. Illinois State is 9-12 all-time against Pac-10 teams, having played every team in the conference except Washington and Washington State. The Redbirds beat UCLA, 61-55, in the first game of the season.
TAKING ON THE BIG GIRLS
In the past two seasons, Illinois State has faced teams from some of the top conferences in Division I. ISU is 7-5 in the last two seasons against teams from the BIG EAST, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and WAC. All seven wins have come in the WNIT. This year, the Redbirds beat a team from the Pac-10 and Big Ten for the first time since the 1990-91 season, when they beat Illinois and California in the first two games of the year.
ISU IN THE POSTSEASON WNIT
Illinois State is making its ninth appearance in the Postseason WNIT (1980, 1982, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1996, 2007, 2009 and 2010) and has a 14-14 all-time record in the tournament. ISU is 8-2 in its last three WNIT appearances.
Illinois State's berth in the 2010 Postseason WNIT puts the Redbirds in the postseason for the fourth-consecutive season. ISU made WNIT trips in three of the last four years and appeared in the NCAA Tournament in 2008. ISU's four-year postseason run is the second-longest in school history, behind six-straight trips from 1980-85.
REDBIRDS WIN MVC REGULAR-SEASON TITLE
Illinois State's win over Bradley (Feb. 28) clinched the program's seventh Missouri Valley Conference Regular-Season title. The Redbirds clinched a third-consecutive championship for just the second time (1988-90) and back-to-back outright conference titles for the first time ever. Illinois State has won the MVC Regular-Season Championship outright four times (1985, 1989, 2009, 2010). ISU finished the conference season with a 16-2 record for just the second time (1988-89).
REDBIRD SENIORS RECEIVE ALL-VALLEY HONORS
For the second-consecutive season, three Redbirds received All-Valley recognition. Ashleen Bracey and Maggie Krick were both named to the first team and Nicolle Lewis was named to the second team. Bracey and Krick are the eighth Redbird teammates to be named to the first team in the same season, the first since Jenny Schmidt and Corinne Vossel in 1998. Bracey received her second-career recognition after being an honorable mention pick in 2008. Krick continued to move up the All-Valley ladder with her third-consecutive honor. She was an honorable mention selection in 2008 and a second-team honoree in 2009. Lewis also earned her third All-Valley accolade to go along with an honorable mention pick in 2007 and a second-team selection last year. Bracey and Lewis were both also named to the Valley All-Defensive Team. All three seniors were also named Valley Scholar-Athletes.
PINGETON NAMED RAWLINGS MVC COACH OF THE YEAR
Illinois State head coach Robin Pingeton was named the Rawlings Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year for the second time in her seven-year career in the conference. She won it for the first time in 2004, her first year in the conference. Pingeton became just the sixth coach to win the award more than once in its 26-year history, along with Jill Hutchison (Illinois State), Cindy Scott (Southern Illinois), Cheryl Burnett (Missouri State), Lisa Bluder (Drake) and Jim Wiedie (Indiana State). She led Illinois State to its third-straight MVC regular-season title and second-best conference record ever. She also moved into the top-10 in the Valley in overall and conference wins.
PINGETON NAMED WBCA REGIONAL COACH OF THE YEAR
Illinois State head coach Robin Pingeton was named a Russell Athletic/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Regional Coach of the Year March 16. Pingeton, recognized in Region Six, was one of eight finalists for the WBCA Coach of the Year Award. Region Six consists of the Missouri Valley, Big 10, Horizon League and Chicago State.
TONIGHT ON 20/20
With the 80-63 win at Southern Illinois, Illinois State earned its 13th 20-win season. The Redbirds have won 20 games in four-straight seasons for the first time ever, surpassing the three-consecutive from 1983-85 and 1988-90. The Redbirds reached the 20-win plateau in just 25 games, tied for the third-fewest games ever, and their 23 regular-season wins tied for the second-most all-time (1984-85, 2007-08). The recent success is even more remarkable considering that in the 16 seasons between 20-win seasons (1991-2006), ISU averaged just 11.6 wins per year.
On Feb. 20, both the Illinois State men's and women's basketball teams won their 20th games of the season. Illinois State is one of 13 schools to have both its men's and women's basketball teams win 20 games in three-consecutive seasons: Baylor, Butler, Dayton, Duke, Gonzaga, Illinois State, Michigan State, Temple, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Virginia Commonwealth and Xavier.
25 TIMES THREE
Usually that means 75, but it can also describe the last three seasons for the Redbirds. Illinois State's win over Butler in the first round of the WNIT was its 25th of the season, marking the third-straight season the Redbirds reached that plateau. ISU became the first school in Missouri Valley Conference history to win 25 games in three-consecutive seasons. Illinois State joins Baylor, Bowling Green, Connecticut, Duke, Green Bay, Gonzaga, Marist and Texas A&M as the only teams to win 25 games in each of the last three seasons.
FREEBIES, BUT GOODIES
ISU is cashing in its free throws this season and is on pace to shatter the school's free throw percentage record. The Redbirds ranked first in the Valley and second in the nation in free throw percentage (80.5) at the end of the regular season. The Redbirds are averaging 13.6 makes per contest and have made 20 free throws in eight games. ISU was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line at Evansville, marking the eighth perfect game in school history. The Redbirds have shot less than 70 percent from the charity stripe just twice this season.
Illinois State had the most efficient offense in the Valley, leading the conference with a 44.8 field goal percentage during the regular season. ISU shot better than 40 percent from the field in 22 games, including six when it made more than half its shots. Nicolle Lewis led the conference in field goal percentage (56.0), followed closely by Ashleen Bracey in third place (50.0). The Redbirds shot better than 40 percent in every game during their 15-game winning streak, propelling them from 166th in the nation in field goal percentage to 23rd.
Illinois State's defense has also fueled the success this season. The Redbirds had the best field goal percentage defense (36.8) and scoring margin (9.4) in the Valley this season. Of ISU's 25 wins this season, 20 have come by double-digit margins. The Redbirds held Valley opponents to 61.1 points per game, the second-lowest average in the conference.
THAT 70'S SCORE
This note is brought to you by the number 70; a key number in determining a Redbird win or loss. ISU is 18-1 when scoring 70 points or more and 9-6 when failing to reach 70 points. The Redbirds are 25-5 when holding their opponent under 70 points.
Illinois State was able to achieve another 20-win season with a 15-game winning streak, which included 14-straight Valley wins, during January and February. Both streaks were the second-longest in school history, falling just short of a 16-game winning streak in 1988-89 . The Redbirds have had a double-digit winning streak in each of the last three seasons, the first time that has occurred in program history.
BRACEY DIGS THE VALLEY
Senior Ashleen Bracey really stepped up her game during Missouri Valley Conference play. In conference play, Bracey ranked third in scoring (16.7 ppg), second in field goal percentage (54.0), third in field goal percentage (90.7) and fourth in rebounding (8.7 rpg). After not recording a double-double in non-conference play, Bracey had eight against Valley opponents; coming one rebound short in four other games. A four-time MVC Player of the Week, she was also fourth in the Valley overall in scoring (15.3 ppg) and rebounding (7.8 rpg).
BRACEY TOPS IT ALL
Senior Ashleen Bracey ended the regular season as ISU's leader in scoring (15.1 ppg) and rebounding (7.8 rpg). One Redbird has led the team in both scoring and rebounding 16 times in school history, the last being Holly Hallstrom in 2005-06.
Coming into the season, Illinois State knew it would need to rely on the senior trio of Ashleen Bracey, Maggie Krick and Nicolle Lewis for success. The trio has stepped up big, making up the top-three Redbird scorers and rebounders; combining for 58.8 percent of the ISU scoring production and 49.7 percent of its rebounding. One of the trio has led ISU in scoring in 30 of the 33 games this year and all three players ranked in the top-15 in the Valley in scoring and rebounding. The win over Indiana State (Feb. 6) was the trio's 91st together, making them the winningest senior class in Illinois State history, and they won their 100th game in the WNIT-opener against Butler.
For the fourth time in program history, Illinois State has three players on one team who have scored 1,000 points in their careers. Seniors Ashleen Bracey, Maggie Krick, Nicolle Lewis are all members of the 1,000-point club; with Krick and Lewis reaching the milestone last season and Bracey becoming the 25th member against Missouri State (Feb. 14). The trio is also the first senior class consisting of three 1,000-point scorers. There have been three previous seasons with three 1,000-point scorers on one team (1989-90: Char Govan, Cindy Kaufman, LuAnn Robinson; 1997-98: Jenny Schmidt, Valarie Trame, Corinne Vossel; 2008-09: Kristi Cirone, Krick, Lewis).
BRIGHT LIGHTS OF BROADWAY
Illinois State sophomore Katie Broadway missed the first five games of the season with a broken wrist and started out slow when she returned, but once January came around, she started to light it up. Broadway averaged 9.4 points per game and made 37 of her 42 three-pointers in the final 17 games of the regular season. She scored a career-high 20 points at Indiana State, making six three-pointers, and scored in double-figures in seven other games. She made multiple three-pointers in 10 games and led the Valley in three-point field goal percentage (43.3). This season, she has more than doubled her scoring output and has started the last eight games. In the Valley Tournament win over Indiana State, Broadway led ISU in scoring for the first time with 15 points.
Nicolle Lewis: QUEEN OF THE BLOCK
Redshirt senior Nicolle Lewis has continued her defensive dominance in her final season. A Valley All-Defensive Team pick for the first time, Lewis ranked second in the Valley in blocks (2.0 bpg) and fifth in defensive rebounds (5.3 rpg). Her 2.2 blocks per game in conference play led the Valley. She led ISU in blocks for the fourth-consecutive season (60), blocking multiple shots in 18 games. Lewis became the fifth player in Valley history to accumulate 200 blocks in her career and is currently in second place on the conference's all-time blocks list with 258.
DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE
Illinois State is 16-1 this season when a player records a double-double. Seniors Ashleen Bracey and Nicolle Lewis have combined for 17 double-doubles this season and rank fourth and fifth in career double-doubles, respectively. Junior Shala Jackson recorded her fourth-career double-double at Eastern Illinois.
REDBIRDS PICKED SECOND IN MVC PRESEASON POLL
Illinois State was projected to finish in second place in the annual Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Poll, conducted by the leagues coaches, sports information directors and media. Illinois State received 340 votes, falling just behind Creighton (393). The Bluejays (34) and Redbirds (6) were the only teams to receive first-place votes. ISU has been picked in the top-three in the preseason poll in each of the last three seasons. In four of the five years the Redbirds have been picked second in the preseason poll, they wound up winning the MVC regular-season title.