Turnovers, drought bring ISU down in opener

Archive Photo: Alexis Foley accounted for nine points for the Redbirds in Wednesday’s game against the Norse, shooting 50 percent from the field.

Archive Photo:
Alexis Foley accounted for nine points for the Redbirds in Wednesday’s game against the Norse, shooting 50 percent from the field.

Trouble connecting from the field and a bevy of turnovers were enough to stop the ISU women’s basketball team from taking home the win in its season opener. Taking on the Norse (2-0) on their home turf at Northern Kentucky (NKU), the ’Birds now fall to 0-1 on the season after topping Northwest Missouri State in their singular exhibition match on Nov. 3. With a ten-minute scoring drought to bring them down in the second half, the Norse topped the Redbirds 61-48.

“We’ve been battling this all year so far,” head coach Barb Smith said. “It’s just that when it gets tough or it gets a little bit frustrating — our shots aren’t falling or something, or we get calls — we tend to go inside ourselves and we stop being a team. If we’re going to win games this year it’s got to be as a team.”

Leading Illinois State was Alexis Foley, who nabbed nine points, shooting 50 percent (4-for-8) from the field, while Chloe Nelson added eight. Stekara Hall, Maddie Oliver and Brianna Puni each had six points a piece. Puni also had three offensive boards, as did Octavia Crump who brought down seven total rebounds. Alison Seberger had six boards. The ’Birds out-
rebounded the Norse, 41-24, including 16 offensive rebounds.

Nelson connected on a jumper and a layup in transition, which lifted ISU to a 4-0 run and its first lead of the game, 8-7, just past the 14-minute mark. After grabbing those four points, the Redbirds remained without a basket until 16 minutes into the first half, when Foley and Puni recorded back-to-back layups. Crump then added a free three to give a 13-11 advantage to ISU.

Kalyn Gebhardt hit a jumper to keep the offensive effort alive and increase the ISU lead, 15-11, withjust over seven minutes to play in the opening half. NKU then broke out of its seven scoreless minutes, putting five straight points on the board to take a 16-15 lead. Foley then answered with three of her own, turning the score back to 18-16 ISU. The Norse returned with a two-point lead before Nelson connected another jumper, tying the game at 20-all with 3:27 left to play. After a pair of free throws, an Oliver jumper and a late NKU turnover, Nelson sank her third jumper at the buzzer to give ISU the half-time advantage.

At the end of the half, the Norse had only connected 28 percent of the shots while the Redbirds recorded 44 percent of their attempts.  ISU and NKU continued to exchange basket for basket in the second half, until the Norse took a five-point run to a 32-30 lead.  An NKU foul brought Gebhardt to the free throw line, tying the game again. This moment gave the ’Birds an eight-point run with 10 minutes left to play.

The Norse’s turn for an 8-0 run in the back and forth match up gave them a 44-40 advantage, just as the Redbirds began their 10 minutes without a field goal. They managed three free throws, but it was not enough. Without scoring a field goal in the final 10 minutes, and turning over the ball a total of 28 times, NKU finally came out victorious, 61-48.

“It has to be a win-by-committee. It’s a challenge for us to get outside of ourselves and stay outside of ourselves, and to work together as a team. It’s something we’re working on, and actually, it is turning; we can see it,” Smith said.

On Monday, the ’Birds will take on rival DePaul in Chicago.

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