With Illinois State women’s basketball sitting in first place in the Missouri Valley Conference and riding a nine-game winning streak, the Redbirds will look to extend their streak to double digits when they take on Murray State at CEFCU Arena for their annual Play4Kay game.
Here are five things to know before the 2 p.m. tip-off Sunday:
Sunday’s matchup will mark the second time the Redbirds and Racers have gone head to head. Their only matchup came in November 2015 when the Redbirds came away with an 81-76 home victory.
Shakeela Fowler led the Redbirds in the win with 18 points, five assists and five steals. Millie Stevens also contributed in a significant way with 17 points and nine rebounds.
For the Racers, LeAsia Wright totaled 21 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals. Ke’Shunan James also poured in 16 points, six rebounds and four assists for MSU.
After going 9-2 in their first 11 games of the season, the Racers have tailed off with the start of conference play. MSU currently sits tied for eighth place in the MVC standings with a 4-7 conference record.
The Racers are on a five-game losing streak and have yet to win a game on the road. To go along with their struggles on the road, the Racers are averaging 59.6 points in their road conference games.
That mark is almost 10 points less than what they average in conference home games.
If MSU is going to get back on track, breaking ISU’s winning streak would certainly be a start.
Shutting things down
ISU’s defense has applied pressure all season, ranking second in the MVC in points allowed per game at 59.7. However, the Redbirds have taken it to another level in their past four games.
In those wins, ISU has allowed 46.5 points per game and has forced those opponents to score less than 10 points in at least one quarter.
The Racers are averaging 59.5 points in their last four contests, so it might be even more difficult for MSU to generate enough offense.
Battle for offensive rebounds
One of the deciding factors in this matchup could be who controls the offensive glass. MSU is currently fourth in offensive rebounds per game in the MVC at 11 and has out-rebounded its past four opponents in that category 51-38.
In comparison, the Redbirds are not too far behind. ISU is sixth in the MVC in offensive rebounds per game at 10.7 and has out-rebounded its past four opponents on the offensive glass 37-33.
Duel of top MVC scorers
Despite their bumpy stretch of basketball, Katelyn Young has been a substantial bright spot for the Racers. On the season, Young leads the MVC in scoring at 20.9 points per game on 51% shooting and is second in rebounds at 8.3 per game.
For the Redbirds, Paige Robinson has continued her stellar play on the offensive end. Robinson is averaging the second-most points per game in the MVC at 18.3 and is shooting 46.5% from the field and 40% from three.
On top of Robinson’s scoring, she is averaging five rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Robinson has played whatever role ISU has needed her to, and that adaptability will be imperative for the Redbirds going forward.
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