Women's Basketball Heads to Western Kentucky

Nov. 23, 2012

Game 5 | illinois state at Western Kentucky
Date: Saturday, Nov.24 at 5:30 p.m.
Location: Bowling Green, Ky. | E. A. Diddle Arena
Game Notes: Illinois State | Western Kentucky
Twitter: @ISUwbb

NORMAL, Ill. -With a win against in-state rival Illinois-Chicago, the Illinois State women's basketball team will be back on the road, as it travels to Western Kentucky for its second-straight road trip. ISU and WKU will take to the court Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

In the Redbirds' win over UIC, four players scored in double digits, as the team was led by senior guard Candace Sykes, who shot 50 percent and scored 20 points. Sophomore transfer Janae Smith, the Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer of the Week, added 18 points for ISU. Senior guard Jamie Russell led Illinois State in rebounds with eight.

Saturday's game will mark the sixth meeting between Illinois State and Western Kentucky. The Redbirds hold a 3-2 advantage, winning the most recent game last season on Dec. 9 in Normal, Ill. ISU had a convincing 71-45 victory, after then-junior Sykes scored 19 points. The series dates back to the 1986-87 season. WKU holds a 2-0 record of games played in Bowling Green, Ky.

• Western Kentucky is located in Bowling Green, Ky., and has an enrollment of 21,048
• The Hilltoppers are members of Sun Belt Conference.
• The Hilltoppers ended the 2011-12 season with a 9-21 mark and a 5-11 in conference play for a fifth-place finish.
• They return two starters and five letterwinners from last year's team and seven newcomers.

In Illinois State's 86-74 victory over UIC (Nov. 21), four Redbirds scored in double figures for ISU. Candace Sykes poured in 20 points, the sixth 20-point effort of her career. Janae Smith added 18, while Jamie Russell had 14 followed by Alexis Jenkins with 13. It was the first time this season ISU had four players tally double-digit performances. Prior to the UIC game, the last time the Redbirds had four players in double figures was on Feb. 26, 2012, against Missouri State in an overtime loss.

After sitting out the first two games of the 2012-13 season, senior guard Candace Sykes is averaging 16.5 points per game, making 48 percent of the shots she takes. In ISU's two-point loss, 76-74, to Memphis (Nov. 18), Sykes sank 18 points off of the bench, and recorded the sixth 20-point performance of her career against UIC (Nov. 21), scoring 20. The senior guard has made six threes off of 15 attempts on the season.

The Redbirds have led three of their fi­rst four opponents in the paint so far during the 2012-13 season. ISU outscored opponents in the paint, 90-78 through its first three games. Illinois State scored a season-high 40 points in the paint against Memphis (Nov. 18), compared to 36 points in the paint by the Tigers. ISU is outscoring opponents in the paint from a two to six-point margin. The six-point difference was against Morehead State, when ISU sank 26 points in the paint compared to 20 by MSU. In Illinois State's 86-74 win over UIC, the Flames netted 36 in the paint, two points more than the Redbirds' 34.

Senior guard Jamie Russell leads the Redbirds and the Missouri Valley Conference in free throw percentage making a perfect 100 percent through four games. The Rock Falls, native has attempted 17 free throws so far during the 2012-13 season, connecting on all 17 attempts. Russell has shot 6-of-6 from the free throw line twice this season.

Sophomore transfer Janae Smith was named the Missouri Valley Conference Player and Newcomer of the Week, as announced by the league office on Monday, Nov. 19. It is the second weekly Valley honor Smith. Smith just missed a double-double in her third performance as a Redbird, as the forward poured in a career-high 31 points and brought down nine rebounds in ISU's 76-74 loss to Memphis in the third round of the Preseason WNIT. Smith was 11-of-15 from the field, shooting 73 percent and sank 9-of-10 from the charity stripe. She also recorded a steal in 38 minutes of play. In her stellar performance, Smith set or tied a career high in seven categories. The forward is the second-leading scorer for ISU after three games. She is averaging 18.3 points per game and has brought down 24 boards, with 10 being offensive. Smith is leading the team with three blocks, is second on the team in steals with four and averages 34 minutes per game. It marks the third weekly honor for the Redbirds. Smith and Jamie Russell swept the Newcomer and Player of the Week honors last week (Nov. 13), respectively.

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