TERRE HAUTE —
Illinois State snapped Indiana State’s four-game winning streak Sunday, also keeping the Sycamores’ women’s basketball team from joining the Redbirds on their perch at third place in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Anna Munn finished with 16 points for the Sycamores, but the Redbirds held her scoreless for the final 16 minutes, 55 seconds of the game.
That and early foul trouble to 6-foot-1 sophomore Racheal Mahan, who fouled out, and to 6-2 Marina Laramie loomed large in the 63-54 outcome, Sycamores coach Teri Moren and Redbirds coach Stephanie Glance agreed.
“Their posts, perhaps, played a little bit tentative after getting into foul trouble. That probably was a big factor in the game,” said Glance, who got a career-high 17 points, 10-rebound performance from stalwart sophomore Brianna Puni.
The Redbirds also converted at the free-throw line, making 23 of 25 shots, and Candace Sykes hit a couple of clutch shots in the second half to finish with 12 points and 14 rebounds.
Mahan, who had averaged a team-high 15.6 points in ISU’s last five games, got only one shot attempt in the first half and picked up her third foul with 4 minutes, 50 seconds on the first-half clock.
The game went back-and-forth with eight lead changes until late in the first half.
The Sycamores went scoreless for 2:18 while the Redbirds scored nine unanswered points to take a 26-20 lead. The Sycamores had three made shots over the last six minutes and zero made shots over the last 12 minutes of the first half from Mahan or Laramie.
“We needed [Mahan] to have a big day, we needed Marina to have a big day,” Moren said.
Maddie Oliver powered over Laramie to start the half as she and Puni posted eight of the Redbirds’ first 11 points of the second half, expanding the Sycamores’ deficit to 41-33 with 13:43 to go.
Illinois State attacked Mahan and Laramie, and the Redbirds’ zone defense held Indiana State without a point for another long stretch. The Sycamores went without scoring for 3:12 after Munn’s 3-pointer with 16:55 on the clock.
While offensive droughts continued to damage the Sycamores’ chances, Moren seemed most frustrated with Illinois State’s ability to win the battles for position in the paint.
“Our challenge to our post players is always to play harder,” Moren said. “They can’t allow themselves to get buried in the paint. You don’t play behind in the post. Those are not our post rules. Sometimes when you’re not willing to make that extra effort to get where you need to be, then sometimes the easy thing to do is foul.”
Moren used a timeout to ask the officials to check the video monitors when the Indiana State bench thought an Illinois State player was excessively physical during a loose-ball scrum.
While officials made no calls on the play, the Sycamores seemed to be energized by the long stoppage.
Senior Taylor Whitley scored four, while Laramie and Mahan combined for four as ISU rallied to tie the game at 41-41 with an 11-4 run.
The Sycamores just didn’t make enough plays at either end after that, giving Jaime Russell a wide-open layup and going another stretch of almost four minutes without scoring.
Puni’s bucket with 3:33 left put Illinois State ahead 53-45, and the Sycamores didn’t have another rally in them.
Glance commented that the Sycamores and Redbirds are “almost mirror images” of one another. She had an admiration for the Sycamores as she prepared her team for this week’s game.
“Our key word for coming to Indiana State was toughness because Indiana State has a toughness about them, both mentally and physically,” Glance said. “It was a hard-fought battle but our players did show a lot of mental and physical toughness.”
The loss stung for the Sycamores as Mahan left Hulman Center quickly afterward, and Munn seemed ready to get another chance at the Redbirds.
“I don’t think they’re similar. I think we have more heart, more determination, we just didn’t bring that tonight,” Munn said. “I don’t think there’s really a similarity. I think our posts are stronger, our guards are a lot better. We just didn’t execute our stuff, and we didn’t have our defensive intensity until that second half.”
ILLINOIS STATE (63) — Oliver 2-2 2-2 6, Puni 6-9 5-5 17, Jenkins 1-4 0-0 2, Foley 2-2 8-8 13, Russell 3-10 2-2 8, Sykes 4-13 3-4 12, Nelson 0-1 1-2 1, Winge 0-1 0-0 0, Smith 1-6 2-2 4. Totals 19-48 FG, 23-25 FT, 63 TP.
INDIANA STATE (54) — Laramie 2-8 5-6 9, Mahan 6-8 0-0 12, Whitley 4-9 4-4 13, Munn 5-21 3-4 16, Franklin 2-4 0-3 4, Zurek 0-0 0-0 0, Haskins 0-0 0-0 0, Johnson 0-3 0-1 0. Totals 19-54 FG, 12-18 FT, 54 TP.
Halftime score — Illinois State 30, Indiana State 26. Rebounds — ILS 37 (Sykes 14, Puni 10), ISU 33 (Mahan 7, Laramie 7, Munn 5). Assists — ILS 12 (Russell 4), ISU 11 (Munn 4, Whitley 3). Turnovers — ILS 16 (Jenkins 5), ISU 14 (Whitley 4, Laramie 3). Blocks — ILS 3 (Smith 2, Puni), ISU 4 (Laramie 2, Mahan 2). Steals — ILS 9 (Puni 2, Jenkins 2, Foley 2, Russell 2, Smith), ISU 9 (Johnson 2, Franklin 2, Whitley 2, Mahan 2, Munn). A — 2,381.
Next — Indiana State (16-8, 8-6 MVC) plays host to Missouri State on Friday. Illinois State (18-8, 10-4 MVC) plays host to Wichita State on Friday.
Headache: Indiana State’s Anna Munn reacts to a head-to-head collision with an Illinois State player Sunday afternoon. Munn was fouled on the play and converted two free throws.
Falling flat: Indiana State’s Taylor Whitley is tripped as she drives to the basket during action against Illinois State on Sunday afternoon at Hulman Center.