A dominant second half propelled Illinois State University women’s basketball (5-1) to its fourth straight win after defeating UT-Martin (2-4) by a final score of 70-47 Saturday afternoon at Redbird Arena.
The Redbirds had four players finish in double-digit scoring, led by senior Lexi Wallen who finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds for her first double-double of the season.
Wallen’s strong start to the season continued, scoring six of the team’s first eight points after the Redbirds jumped out to an early 8-2 lead.
A made three-point field goal by the Skyhawks would bring them within two points, but Megan Talbot would answer with a three-ball of her own to extend the Redbird lead 14-9 with 3:05 left to play in the first quarter.
Illinois State had its chances to pull away, but six turnovers would keep UT-Martin in the game as the ’Birds held a 19-16 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Skyhawks carried a 7-0 run into the second quarter to take a 21-19 lead, their first of the game.
Back-to-back layups from TeTe Maggett and Wallen would help the Redbirds regain a 24-21 lead but the scoring struggles would continue for ISU.
Both teams would continue to trade leads down the stretch, as UT-Martin’s Tamiah Stanford would score four straight points to give the Skyhawks a 30-29 advantage with 3:30 left to play in the first half.
The Skyhawks took a 36-33 lead into halftime shooting 42.4 percent from the field.
Illinois State shot 44.8 percent and out-rebounded the Skyhawks 21-15, but the nine turnovers by the ’Birds allowed their opposition to stay in the game and eventually take the lead.
Neither team was able to score for the first few minutes of the second half before Talbot would drain her second three pointer of the game to tie the score at 36 points all.
Freshman Mary Crompton followed that shot up with a three pointer to put the ’Birds up for good 39-36 with 6:43 left to play in the third quarter.
The freshman would sink two more three-point field goals in the quarter and finished the game with 12 points while shooting 4-7 from beyond the arc.
The three-point barrage continued for the ’Birds after Talbot hit her third three-point field goal to cap off a 18-7 scoring run for ISU who led 51-43 at the end of the third quarter.
Rolling into the fourth quarter with momentum, the Redbirds continued to dominate in the second half, getting most of their scoring from Wallen.
The Champaign native was a force to be reckoned with, scoring 11 of the team’s 19 points in the fourth quarter.
ISU’s defense put the clamps down on the Skyhawks, forcing 17 turnovers and holding UT-Martin to just four points in the final quarter on the way to a 70-47 win.
Maggett added 15 points, nine assists and eight rebounds on the afternoon.
Up next for Illinois State is a midweek matchup at home against Western Illinois (4-4).
Tipoff between the Redbirds and Leathernecks is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday.