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Saturday, March 17, 2007 | Women's Basketball
Illinois State and Southern Illinois Fall in Second Round of WNIT; Drake Prepares for Tennessee
Illinois State and Southern Illinois both fell in the second round of the Women's National Invitational tournament, ending each teams season. Playing at South Dakota State, the Jackrabbits topped the Redbirds 61-48 while the Salukis lost 72-46 to defending champion Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas.
Kristi Cirone joined McCracken in double figures with 11 points, while Kenyatta Shelton narrowly missed her second consecutive double-double with nine points to go along with eight rebounds. South Dakota State was led by senior Megan Vogel’s 23 points, five rebounds and four assists. Andrea Verdegan also chipped in 10 points for the Jackrabbits.
South Dakota State built as large as a nine-point lead in the first half before seeing the Redbirds finish the stanza on a 22-16 run over the final 12 minutes of the stanza to pull within 33-30 at halftime. The Jackrabbits started the second half on a 9-2 run, and after building a double-digit lead, never allowed the Redbirds to get any closer than six points for the remainder of the game.
Both teams traded baskets in the early stages of the first half, and Illinois State owned a 6-3 lead at the 18 minute mark after a transition six-footer by Maggie Krick. But the Jackrabbits went on an ensuing 6-0 run to claim a 9-6 advantage at the first media timeout. South Dakota’s lead grew to nine, 18-7, three minutes later after an 8-2 spurt. Vogel’s transition three-pointer capped off the spree.
Following the second media timeout of the half (11:54), ISU strung together a 7-0 run to pull within two, 17-15. McCracken had four quick points in the spurt, including her first three-point field goal. The Redbirds remained within two possessions for the next nine minutes before a fast-break lay-up by Vogel gave the Jackrabbits a 31-24 advantage with 1:40 left in the opening stanza. But ISU went on a 6-2 spurt to end the frame, including McCracken’s three-pointer from the corner as time expired, pulling the `Birds within three, 33-30, heading into the locker room at halftime.
Nicolle Lewis’ post field goal with 19:09 remaining in the second half pulled ISU within 33-32, but SDSU answered with a 9-0 spree to take a 10-point lead (42-32) with just under 17 minutes remaining. Both teams traded baskets over the ensuing 11 minutes before ISU strung together a 7-2 run to pull within five, 53-48, with 5:20 remaining. Sara Stevenson tallied a driving lay-up, and McCracken hit her fifth trey of the game to cap off the spurt. But the Redbirds scored just three points for the remainder of the game, as SDSU put the finishing touches on the 13-point win.
Illinois State was edged on the boards, 42-40, and was forced into 14 turnovers. The Jackrabbits collected 11 steals.
The Redbirds’ 22 wins are the most since the 1988-89 campaign. ISU is scheduled to return 11 of its 15 players next season, and welcomes four freshman as part of the 2007 recruiting class.
Kansas State 72, Southern Illinois 46
Ashley Sweat score 15 points and Kimberly Dietz added 13 for Kansas State (17-14), which won its sixth straight postseason WNIT game dating to last season.
And this one was over shortly after it began. Kansas State raced to a 20-4 lead midway through the first half and never looked back.
Kansas State hit from inside, outside and pretty much wherever it wanted as the Wildcats shot 55 percent and sizzled from the field all night long.
Claire Coggins, who came off the bench for the first time in 40 games, pitched in with 11 points and Kari Kincaid scored a career high 10 as four Wildcats finished in double figures. In fact, all nine Wildcats who dress for the game scored, including Shalee Lehning who pitched in just four points but dished out six assists and grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds.
By halftime K-State had build a 31-12 lead. Southern Illinois (21-11), which got 14 points and 11 rebounds from Jayme Sweere, never got closer than 13 after the break and suffered its biggest loss of the season.
The Wildcats used an 11-2 run and quickly pushed their cushion back over 20 points. SIU, which was held to season lows in both points and field-goal percentage, never got within 22 again as K-State stretched its lead to as many as 29 with 5:21 to go before settling for the 26-point win.
Drake Prepares for Top-Seeded Tennessee in NCAA First Round
The 118-member team travel party, including fans, band and cheerleaders arrived in Pittsburgh Friday afternoon only to be greeted by three inches of snow.
Head coach Amy Stephens ran her squad through two practices Saturday. The Bulldogs conducted a one-hour workout at the Petersen Events Center, which was open to the public and then held a closed 45-minute practice at Fitzgerald Fieldhouse.
Stephens, along with junior guard Lindsay Whorton (Independence, Mo./Truman), sophomore forward Lauren Dybing (Bloomington, Minn./St. Croix Lutheran) and senior forward Jill Martin (Norwalk, Iowa/Norwalk) participated in a formal press conference prior to practice.
Stephens had an opportunity to personally meet legendary Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt when the two coaches passed each other in the hallway prior to the Bulldogs' practice.
"She's done a great job...Just watching her team I know she's got to be very excited about coming into this setting," said Summitt, who earned the most wins of any NCAA college basketball coach owning an incredible 941-180 (.839) overall record."
"I didn't know this until somebody told me, but they said (Amy Stephens) really studied the Tennessee system and was a big fan of our program.
"What she did with her basketball team and overcoming injuries and being able to bring this team to the position of playing here in the NCAA Tournament through her (Missouri Valley) conference championship is remarkable. I look forward to letting Amy (Stephens) know how much I've enjoyed scouting the team. They've got some really good offensive sets, particularly in the halfcourt. She may be young, but just watching her demeanor she looks to be a great communicator."
The Drake team is staying in downtown Pittsburgh at the historic Omni William Penn Hotel, which opened in 1916.
Coach Stephens started Saturday by attending a mandatory 9 a.m. pre-tournament meeting at the Petersen Events Center on the University of Pittsburgh campus. All head coaches, athletic directors and sports information directors were required to attend to discuss game administration throughout the tournament.
With two of the four designated No. 1 seeds in Tennessee and North Carolina playing in Pittsburgh, it is to see why more than 250 media were issued credentials.
After a 90-minute film and scouting session in head coach Amy Stephen's room on Saturday morning, the team enjoyed lunch with a visit to Primanti Brothers Restaurant - a Pittsburgh tradition for over 60 years. Cole slaw and french fries are piled inside the sandwich between two slabs of chewy Italian bread.
The night was capped with an Italian theme again as the team ate dinner at The Spaghetti Warehouse.
The Bulldogs will have a 20-minute shoot-around, which is closed to the public at 7:40 a.m. Central time at the Petersen Events Center Sunday. Then at 6:07 Central Time, Drake battles No. 3/4 Tennessee.
"We're very, very excited about the opportunity to play the University of Tennessee tomorrow, and there is no doubt that this very special group of young women will certainly be well-prepared," said Stephens. "They'll play their hearts out.
"The adversity that our team went through to get here certainly makes this experience that much more special for everyone involved with our program. It's been an absolute delight to be able to share that with so many friends and family, administrators, everybody involved with our program."
2006-07 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL