The Illinois State women’s basketball team closed out its four-game home stand in comeback fashion Sunday afternoon with a 63-51, victory over Loyola.

The Illinois State women’s basketball team has a tall task this weekend as they travel to face the two teams at the top of the Missouri Valley Conference.

To begin the weekend, the Redbirds (6-16, 3-8 MVC) will travel to first place Drake (18-4, 11-0 MVC) on Friday night.

The Redbirds and Bulldogs last met on Jan. 15 when the Bulldogs cruised past the Redbirds, 87-36.

Drake had four players score in double digits while also shooting 53 percent from the field and 65 percent from three.

ISU turned the ball over 19 times, which turned into 30 points for Drake.

The Redbirds will once again look to seniors Brechelle Beachum and Taylor Stewart to lead the way for this young roster.

Beachum is coming off another game where she scored 20 second half points in route to a comeback victory for Illinois State.

The team will also rely heavily upon Katrina Beck a lot this weekend, after she used a big second-half rally versus Loyola Sunday to propel the Redbirds to a win. Beck scored 14 of her 19 points in the fourth quarter alone.

Drake comes into Friday’s matchup riding a 12-game win-streak.

Four Bulldogs average double digits and will look to attack the young Redbirds.

Lizzy Wendell leads all scorers with 21.7 points per game, followed by Sara Rhine with 11.6, with Becca Hittner averaging 11.3. Caitlin Ingle rounds out the Drake offense with an average of 10.5 points per game.

Drake is averaging 82.4 points per game as a team.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. Friday.

Before coming back home, the Redbirds will travel to Northern Iowa for a Sunday matinee matchup with the Panthers.

Northern Iowa (16-6, 9-2 MVC) has already beaten Illinois State one time this season.

The Panthers defeated the Redbirds on Jan. 13, by a score of 78-40.

The Redbirds were plagued by turnovers again, giving the ball away 22 times which resulted in 28 points for the Panthers.

UNI is currently sitting in second place in the Valley right behind Drake.

The last time the Panthers took the floor, they were beaten by Southern Illinois, 64-59, in Carbondale.

The Panther offense is led by two girls averaging double figures. Madison Weekly comes into the weekend averaging 15.7 points per game, while Ellie Herzberg comes in averaging 11.8 points per game.

Northern Iowa dons an 8-2 record at home this season.

Illinois State has struggled on the road, posting a 1-8 record in road contests.

Sunday’s tip-off is set for 2 p.m.

The Redbirds haven’t been on the road in two weeks and are coming off a weekend where their offense was stagnant for most of the weekend. This weekend is no easy task for the young Redbirds. Going on the road to take on the Valley’s two best isn’t what this team wants to do right now as it tries to gain some ground in the MVC standings before heading to Hoops in the Heartland in March. This could end up being a long road trip for Illinois State.

Friday’s Prediction: Drake 86 / Illinois State 49

Sunday’s Prediction: Northern Iowa 82 / Illinois State 51

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