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Friday, March 16, 2007 | Women's Basketball
Illinois State, Southern Illinois Advance to Second Round of WNIT
Illinois State and Southern Illinois advanced to the second round of the Women's National Invitational Tournament after home wins on Thursday evening over Rice and Stephen F. Austin. It took triple overtime for the Redbirds to down the visiting Owls, the first triple OT in the program's history (71-61) while SIU won 58-50.
Illinois State improves to 22-10 on the year, while Rice finishes its season with a 19-14 mark. The Owls were led by Kadie Riverin, who scored a game-high 23 points, 20 of which came in the second half. ISU had three players in double-figures as post players Nicolle Lewis and Kenyatta Shelton poured in 10 points apiece.
Using a 9-0 run, the Redbirds jumped out to an early lead (16:29) off back-to-back baskets from sophomore center Lewis. Illinois State held Rice scoreless for the first 4:51 until Owl forward Lauren Neaves drained a short jumper in the paint, cutting the ISU lead to seven, 9-2.
Shelton came off the bench to spark the Redbird offense, hitting a running layup and two free throws for four straight points. But Neaves pulled Rice within six, 13-7, with three quick points. The Illinois State duo of Lashawn Johnson and Tamara Butler then went to work, combining for 10 points. Johnson scored three layups for six points as Butler assisted on two and added four points, putting Illinois State up, 23-10.
Rice’s Riverin broke the streak with a trey with 1:32 left in the half, but ISU point guard Kristi Cirone answered with a three-pointer of her own and sending the teams into intermission with Illinois State leading 26-13. The Redbirds shot a perfect 3-for-3 from the line and dished out 10 assists in the opening frame. The Owls, however, recorded eight turnovers and went 5-for-27 in the first half, shooting just 18.5% from the field, the second- lowest total Rice has ever scored in a half of basketball.
After a single Johnson free throw at the 19:00 mark in the second half, scoring stalled for both squads for nearly two minutes before Rice forward Valeriya Berezhynska hit back-to-back jumpers, pulling the Owls within 10, 27-17. The Redbirds led by as many as 14 in the second half but Rice pulled within five with 6:44 left to play, 43-38, sparked by Riverin’s 14 points.
Butler, who finished with seven points, broke the Owl run with 6:16 left to play, hitting her first three of the game. But Riverin kept Rice in the game, scoring four straight points to cut the Illinois State lead to four, 48-44, just before the final media timeout. After a pair of Neaves’ free throws, Cirone finished a traditional three-point play at the 1:33 mark to give the Birds a 53-48 advantage. But a three from Rice guard Krystal Frazier pulled the Owls within a basket, 53-51. Cirone was then fouled on ISU’s ensuing offensive possession but missed the first bonus shot. Berezhynska pulled down the rebound, passed to her outlet and hustled down to the post where she caught a pass from Riverin and drained the layup, knotting the score at 53 and sending the game into overtime.
The teams battled in the first overtime period, trading baskets for five minutes but neither team could pull away. Cirone scored four of ISU’s six points but with the score tied at 59, the game went into a second overtime. Illinois State’s defense carried them through the second overtime, as Lewis was credited with two blocks and Shelton picked up a third. With 31.4 seconds left to play, Cirone collected a charge from Berezhynska, her fourth foul of the game.
Cirone took her time going up the floor, finally passing to Sara Stevenson, who took a shot from behind the arc. However, Stevenson didn’t release the ball in time, as the Birds were charged with a 30-second violation, giving Rice the ball with 1.4 seconds left to play. The Owls inbounded and Riverin attempted a shot near half court that didn’t fall, sending the game into the third overtime with the score tied at 61.
Illinois State had enough in the third and final extra period, holding the Owls scoreless and scoring 10 straight points to finish the game. Cirone and Stevenson hit back-to-back three pointers in a 55 second span to secure the 71-61, triple-overtime win.
The Redbirds travel to Brookings, S.D., for the WNIT second-round game against South Dakota State on Saturday, March 17.
The teams combined for 46 turnovers as the second-best offense in the Southland Conference faced the best defensive team in the Missouri Valley Conference for the opportunity to keep their season alive.
The Salukis drew first blood on a layup by Sweere up, 2-0, before SLC player of the year Charity Egenti answered with two straight jumpers to put the Ladyjacks up, 4-2.
SIU would answer with a Dana Olsen jumper with 17:34 left in the half to tie the game. Next, SIU would go on a 14-7 run to put the Salukis up 18-11.
Every time the SFA would score, SIU would have an answer. The Salukis leading by as many as 11 twice, including a 34-23 advantage with 20 seconds left in the period. The Ladyjacks' Angelina Dennison made a layup with six second in the half to pull within nine, 34-25, heading into the locker rooms at the break.
Southern Illinois led the entire second half, Sweere scoring 12-straight points to put SIU up 54-43 with just over six minutes to play in the game.
Even though the Ladyjacks out-rebounded the Salukis by 11 (37-26), 20 of the boards were offensive, coming off of missed shots, SFA shooting just 41.1 percent (12-of-31).
The Salukis hit 25-of-51 (49 percent) from the field, the best showing since the team shot 50 percent against Drake Jan. 20 in the arena.
Jasmine Gibson recorded 18 points adding two boards, two steals and an assist for the Salukis. Dana Olsen added eight points, two steals and a board, while Carlai Moore chipped in six, to go with four rebounds and an assist.
Egenti led the Ladyjacks with a game-high 24 points and seven rebounds. Evelyn Edwards added 10 points, three rebounds, the only other SFA player in double figures.
Southern Illinois will advance to the second round of the WNIT, facing Kansas State Saturday in Manhattan, Kan. A 7 p.m. tip-off is scheduled.
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