The Illinois State University Women’s Basketball team defeated the Lindenwood Lions 89-61 in a home exhibition Wednesday night.
Head Coach Kristen Gillespie leads the team in her third season. Posting a 19-12 record last year, the ’Birds prepared themselves for the new year against the Lions. Lindenwood is a Division-II school that went 21-8 last season.
“I was pleased for three quarters of the game,” Gillespie said. “I thought the third quarter, and I have to give Lindenwood all the credit, they really run their offense really well. They competed, they battled … we just got a little lackadaisical, we relaxed a little bit.”
The Redbirds started a lineup featuring three guards with redshirt freshman Mary Crompton, sophomore Kaylee Newland, and senior TeTe Maggett running the point. Senior forwards Megan Talbot and Lexi Wallen filled out the frontcourt. This lineup enabled a fast pace with a lot of shooting ability on the perimeter.
“We talk a lot about pace and space,” Gillespie said. “We want to play at a really high pace, so we’re asking our wings to run really wide, our posts to run deep; we want to have a lot of spacing.”
Running a four-out one-in set meant that ISU looked to spread the floor and feed Wallen in the post. She led the team in points, as she got whatever she wanted to the tune of 23 points on 10/13 shooting. Maggett recorded a double-double as she dropped 18 points and 10 rebounds in addition to 6 assists.
“Yeah, I mean Lex [Wallen], I think she will be the most improved player in the Valley,” Gillespie said. “She was one of our hardest workers in the offseason. Since the day she decided to come back for the fifth year, I can’t remember a day where she hasn’t been in the gym working.”
Most of Wallen’s touches were in the post; Gillespie said that Wallen worked on her post game during the offseason.
“She just really dedicated herself to try to become the best player she could,” Gillespie said.
The Redbirds led the Lions 23-14 at the end of the first quarter, hitting two three pointers in the process. They would go on to shoot 9/19 from distance for the game.
“This is a framer, this is uncharted territory right here,” Gillespie said. “I think we were at like 16% our first year, and maybe 26 or 30% last year … I think it’s the work that our players have put in last season. I can say all of our returners are better versions of themselves.”
At the half, ISU continued to lead 44-26. They shot 55%. In the third, the Lions hit six three pointers and cut the deficit to 10. However, the Redbirds were able to stifle their rally and carried a 66-53 lead into the final quarter.
Lindenwood did not score another point until there were less than five minutes remaining in the fourth. They shot 3-16 to ISU’s 10-16 and the Redbirds sealed the game shut.
ISU ended up shooting 38/68 compared to Lindenwood’s 24/62.Crompton also scored 18 on the back of four three-point makes.
“The great thing about our offense this year, it’s not like we’re just running sets to pound the ball inside,” Gillespie said. “Our guards are playing off of each other, and with their penetration we’re able to get some post touches, so it’s not as scripted which is nice.”
Being an exhibition game, the Redbirds trotted out 13 different players to prepare for the season.
“And that was the goal, we wanted to see some different lineups,” Gillespie said. “But most of all, we wanted to get our young guys experience in front of a crowd. It’s one thing in practice, now you have family and friends, fouls count. I thought they played well within our offense and that was awesome.”
Maggett got the opportunity to play in front of her mother for the first time ever.
“I really don’t know how to describe it,” Maggett said. “It was just fun to know that my mom is in the stands. She’s never seen me play basketball, she only knows of me playing basketball; this is her first time ever seeing me play in an actual game.”
The Redbirds will begin their season in a home game against Truman State on Tuesday, Nov. 5.