MOLINE, Ill. -- The Illinois State women's basketball team lost to No. 20 Drake, 64-40, ending its 2016-17 season.

"I thought the first half we really held them. We came out (in the second half) and Drake just made a push and it effected us a little bit. We tried to regroup and I think defensively it just put so much pressure on the defense that I think the basket got tighter and tighter on offense," ISU coach Barb Smith said.

The Redbirds (8-23, 4-14 Missouri Valley Conference) and Bulldogs (24-6, 18-0 MVC) played a close, but sloppy first half.

Neither team shot well in either quarter of the first half.

The Redbirds shot 17 percent in the first quarter and 29 percent in the second quarter, totaling 24 percent for the half.

Drake, on the other hand, shot 27 percent in the first quarter and 29 percent, adding up to 28 percent for the half.

The Redbirds managed to win the second quarter, 14-9, only trailing by two points, 20-18, heading into the half.

The second half would be completely different, as Drake pulled away from the Redbirds early in the third quarter and didn't look back.

The Bulldogs opened the third quarter with a 7-0 run, forcing an Illinois State timeout.

Drake used a huge 24-point third quarter to inflate its lead to 44-26 by the end of the third quarter.

The Redbirds were not even able to manage 24 points in the entire second half, scoring eight in the third quarter and 14 in the fourth quarter.

For the Redbirds, sophomore Katrina Beck led the team in scoring for the second game in a row, dropping in 13 points.

Seniors Taylor Stewart and Brechelle Beachum were the tied for the second-most points for Illinois State, scoring 10 points each in their final game of their Redbird careers.

Meanwhile, the Redbirds will return 10 of the 12 players on their roster, being one of the youngest teams in the MVC.

"We were young this year and all these young kids got valuable time, especially in tournaments like this. This is fun, this is great they get to experience this," Smith said.

The Bulldogs were led Lizzy Wendell, who scored a game-high 17 points.

Drake had three other players notch double-figures in the game.

Becca Hittner scored 14 points, Sammie Bachrodt added 12 points and Nicole Miller contributed 10 points, rounding out the Bulldog scoring.

The Redbirds now begin the off-season, which starts with a decision to retain head coach Barb Smith or start over and continue the Redbird rebuild of the women's basketball program.

From there, they will continue to groom this young squad, with only one senior heading next year's roster in Hannah Green.

Green finished the season with 75 blocked shots, just three away from the school record.

Illinois State will have some work to do and choices to make, hoping to bring back a program with such a rich history.

MICHAEL MARRA is a Sports Reporter for The Vidette. He can be contacted at Follow him on Twitter at @MikeMarraILSTU

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