TERRE HAUTE —
Not for lack of execution, but the offense by Indiana State’s women’s basketball team was off-target most of Friday night.
Led by Racheal Mahan’s active play in the post, the Sycamores had 15 steals and eight blocked shots to do the job on the defensive end. It helped the Sycamores get past Division II Bellarmine 51-39 in Hulman Center.
In the Sycamores’ only warm-up before a Nov. 9 regular-season opener against Eastern Illinois, Mahan had five of her six blocked shots and three of her five steals in the first half, but ISU had to battle from an early deficit after making just five field goals in the first 13 minutes.
Freshman Kasey Johnson added four steals. Taylor Whitley chipped in three.
Mahan also had 13 points and 13 rebounds as the Sycamores won the battle on the glass 55-42.
“Racheal had a phenomenal game,” ISU junior Anna Munn said. “She played her butt off, and Kasey [Johnson] and Travecia [Franklin] did a good job too. “[Assistant] Coach [Joey] Wells is hitting hard on getting out in the passing lanes so I think we need to work on that. But this was a good game to see where we’re at.”
While ISU made hustle plays all night, the Sycamores shot themselves into an early hole en route to an 18 of 69 shooting (26.1 percent) performance.
Bellarmine, coming off a 13-14 season overall, also took advantage of a few defensive lapses by ISU to knock down three open 3-pointers and take a 17-13 lead.
ISU’s offensive inconsistency throughout the evening could be attributed to an off night shooting.
Anna Munn finished 5 of 22 from the field, and the junior guard missed her first six shots before burying a 3-pointer with 5:56 to go before halftime. Munn’s 3-pointer cut Bellarmine’s lead to 19-16, but ISU outscored the Knights 18-4 from that point on.
Mahan was 4 of 7 from the field in the opening half — the only Sycamore above 50 percent from the field — as ISU took a 31-23 lead at the break on a Munn 3-pointer with three seconds before the buzzer.
Mahan shot 6 of-13, meaning the rest of the Sycamores combined to shoot 21.4 percent.
Munn, who reportedly shot well in a closed scrimmage against Purdue last Sunday, said the Sycamores have to work harder.
“We had multiple shots that we should knock down, but I think this is a good game to see that people, we do need to get in the gym more, do stuff outside of practice,” Munn said. “At the end of the day, it’s about being a player, making plays and knocking the shots down when we’re open. We had multiple great screens, we just got to knock down those shots.”
ISU also struggled mightily at the free-throw line, converting just 11 of 25.
“We work on free throws every single day, but we’ve got to dedicate ourselves and spend additional time,” ISU coach Teri Moren said. “Early on, I think scoring’s going to be hard to find for this team so we’ve got to take the points that are given to us. Tonight we didn’t do that.”
The Sycamores continued to dictate the action in the second half, but they also continued to struggle shooting the ball. ISU made up for that with aggressive rebounding and pulled away as a result.
Mahan came down with the Sycamores’ 18th offensive board of the game with just under 10 minutes left in the game, but she missed two free throws to make the Sycamores 6 of 16 at the charity stripe.
Mahan continued her aggressive play and finished in the lane seconds later to make it a 39-30 lead.
Moren left impressed with ISU’s potential defensively.
“In the second half in particular, we were much better than we were in the first half defensively. Some really good things, but obviously a lot of room to improve,” Moren said.