|Redbirds secure No. 2 Valley seed with win against Salukis|
|Written by Tawni Ricketts, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Sunday, 04 March 2012 21:17|
The Illinois State women’s basketball team clinched second place in the Missouri Valley Conference after defeating Southern Illinois in Carbondale on Saturday in the last game of the regular season. The Redbirds outscored SIU 72-50.
“They [stayed] solid, they [persevered],” ISU head coach Stephanie Glance said on WJBC radio. “They turned it up defensively … they did a great job switching onto the shooters, and we did a good job helping on penetration. That’s what you have to do against Southern, so it was a great day.”
The ’Birds shot 41.5 percent from the field and had 12 turnovers compared to SIU’s 23 turnovers. The Redbirds also nabbed 13 steals, four of which junior guard Alexis Jenkins accounted for.
Jamie Russell led the team offensively with 19 points, while senior guard Katie Broadway and sophomore forward Marley Hall both netted 15 points, and junior guard Candice Sykes grabbed 11 rebounds.
In the first half, Russell put the ’Birds on the board first with a jumper. But SIU was quick to respond as they went on a 9-0 run to lead ISU 9-2. ISU remained scoreless for nearly seven minutes until Hall made a bucket and the Redbirds cut their deficit to 15-7.
Again, Southern tallied up the points with an 8-2 run which included two three-pointers. With 11:27 on the clock, SIU led the ’Birds by 14 points, bringing the score to 23-9.
But the Redbirds went on a 19-4 run in which six players were able to contribute baskets. ISU took the lead from SIU, 28-27, with just under five minutes left in the first half.
“I kept looking at the score board and thinking … we’re going to turn this around’,” Glance said.
Heading into halftime ISU led SIU by one point, 35-34.
ISU came out on top in the second half with a 10-0 run which increased its lead to 11 points, bringing the overall score to 45-34. Russell followed the run up with eight-straight points of her own to give the ’Birds a 15-point lead with just under 10 minutes left in the game.
“[Southern Illinois] hit seven threes on us in the first half and none in the second half … so that was a big focus,” Glance said. “We did a really good job recovering quickly. [At halftime], we talked about [how] if you help, you have to sprint back, and if you hit a screen, you have to sprint through. We also got out and ran, and we’re at our best in transition. We were running and that really put the pressure on Southern specifically.”
ISU remained an offensive threat to SIU, outscoring the Salukis 37-16 in the second period to secure a 22-point victory over Southern and a No. 2 ranking for the MVC tournament.
“They understand what they’ve earned this season,” Glance said. “They’ve earned a second place finish … and right now they take a lot of pride in that. They understand that nobody gave it to us. I’m really proud of them.”