ISU Tips Off Preseason Against Northwest Missouri State
Nov. 2, 2007
NORMAL, Ill. - After countless hours of training and practice over the summer and through the first weeks of the semester, the Illinois State women's basketball team finally has an opponent that isn't wearing the same practice jersey. The Redbirds host Northwest Missouri State on Saturday, Nov. 3, at 2:05 p.m. in their first exhibition game of the season.
With four starters and 11 letterwinners returning from a team that went 22-11 and advanced to the second round of the WNIT last season, head coach Robin Pingeton's fifth Redbird squad is deep, talented, versatile and poised to make a run at a conference championship. People are taking notice of that fact, as the Redbirds were projected to finish second in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll, its highest selection since 1989-90.
The team is highlighted by junior guard Kristi Cirone, the reigning conference player of the year who led the `Birds in scoring, assists and steals in 2006-07. Cirone was selected to the MVC preseason all-conference team earlier in the week for the second-consecutive year. She is joined in the backcourt by senior Tiffany Hudson, juniors Ashley Sandstead and Brooke Singleton and sophomore Maggie Krick.
The front court is led by senior Lashawn Johnson and sophomore Nicolle Lewis, an All-Valley honorable mention selection last season, who have a prominent presence in the low post on both offense and defense. Sophomore Kenyatta Shelton was a Valley All-Freshman pick last year, but a knee injury over the summer will keep her out at the beginning of the year. Senior Tamara Butler, junior Brea Banks and sophomore Ashleen Bracey can impact both the post and the perimeter.
The Redbirds welcome four freshmen into the program this season. Guards Amanda Clifton and Shala Jackson are talented playmakers. Forwards Danielle Calef and Taylor Lawless have the size and skill to add depth to the Redbird front court.
This is the third-consecutive season that the Redbirds and Bearcats face each other in an exhibition game. Last year, the two teams met in ISU's final preseason game and they won easily, 92-59. It was a coming out party for Bracey, Krick and Shelton who combined for 43 points and 16 rebounds in just their second collegiate game. Krick led all scorers with 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field, including four three-pointers. Shelton and Johnson each had a game-high eight rebounds. The two teams first met in 2005, with the Redbirds winning, 93-58.