Indiana State got the better of the Evansville Purple Aces on Thursday night in Terre Haute, Ind., 66-61, in Missouri Valley Conference women’s basketball action, but couldn’t stop the Aces from clinching at least a share of their first MVC regular-season. Despite the loss, the Aces stayed atop the league with a 13-4 record, a game ahead of 12-5 teams Creighton, Drake and Illinois State. On a night where the largest winning margin was five points, Creighton snuck by Wichita State, 56-53, Drake edged Missouri State, 61-58, and Southern Illinois won at Illinois State, 72-69.
Indiana State 66, Evansville 61
TERRE HAUTE, Ind.It took about an hour longer than the University of Evansville women’s basketball team had hoped for on Thursday night, but by the end of the night, the Purple Aces found out that they have won a share of the school’s first Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship.
About an hour after UE suffered a 66-61 defeat at the hands of the Indiana State Sycamores inside the Hulman Center in Terre Haute, the Purple Aces found out that Southern Illinois knocked off Illinois State, 72-69, in Normal, Illinois. With Evansville standing at 13-4 in the MVC (19-8 overall) and every other team in the league having at least five losses, the Purple Aces have clinched a share of the regular-season title. That title could be split as many as four ways though on Saturday, if UE does not pick up a victory at Illinois State.
Evansville will go into Saturday’s 2:05 p.m. game at Illinois State with a 19-9 overall record and 13-4 MVC mark after suffering a 66-61 loss at Indiana State on Thursday. Indiana State used a 10-0 run to close the first half to build a seven-point halftime cushion, a lead ISU would never lose.
Indiana State would grow as much as a 13-point lead in the second half, but UE junior forward Robyn Jennings scored 13 of her career-high 19 points after halftime to help UE rally. Jennings’ three-pointer with 5:03 to play helped Evansville trim the ISU lead back to just four points, 52-48. ISU’s Angela Phillips and Newburgh native Leah Phillips would respond though with back-to-back three-pointers to grow the ISU cushion back to 10 points, 58-48. Evansville would get no closer than three points the rest of the way.
Illinois State, losers of three-straight after Thursday night’s loss to Southern Illinois, will counter Evansville with a 22-6 overall record and 12-5 MVC mark. Should Evansville win on Saturday, the Purple Aces will be the outright MVC regular-season champion.
Saturday’s game can be heard live in the Tri-State on the Aces’ Radio Network (91.5 F.M.-WUEV, 100.5 F.M.-WSJD, 103.9 F.M.-WNTC).
Creighton 56, Wichita State 53
WICHITA, Kan. Creighton grinded out a 56-53 women’s basketball win over Wichita State Thursday night at Charles Koch Arena. The Bluejays were out-rebounded for just the second time in their last 15 games and had their worst free-throw shooting game of the season, but improved to 19-9 overall and 12-5 in Missouri Valley Conference play with the victory. The win, combined with losses by Evansville and Illinois State, keeps Creighton in the hunt for the No. 1 seed in next week's State Farm MVC Tournament.
The Bluejays shot just 32.7 percent (18-55) from the field, 21.1 percent (4-19) from three-point range and a season-low 57.1 percent (16-28) at the free-throw line in the three-point road win. CU’s top three scorers coming into the game Sara Cain, Kelsey Woodard and Ally Thrall combined to shoot 17.9 percent from the field (5-28) and score 20 points.
Creighton scored the first four points in the sloppy affair, while Wichita State (9-20, 3-14 MVC) did not score until over four minutes into the game. The Shockers took their first lead of the game, up 7-6 with 13:55 to play in the first half after a Kiki Stephens basket. Trailing 15-13, the Bluejays scored eight straight points to go up 21-15 with 6:08 left in the opening half and CU would never trail again. The Jays led by as many as seven in the first half before going into intermission up 27-22.
The Shockers would get within one early in the half, scoring the first four points after halftime. The score was 31-30 in favor of the Bluejays four minutes into the half, but CU scored the game’s next seven points, including six on back-to-back three-pointers by Michelle Kaus to give the Jays a 38-30 lead with just over 13 minutes remaining.
With the Bluejays leading 50-41 with 4:45 to play, WSU put together an 8-1 run to get within two after another Stephens bucket with 1:46 to play. The Bluejays would make 5-of-6 free-throws down the stretch to hold on to the win.
Sam Schuett led the Bluejays with 10 points and six rebounds. Cain and Thrall finished with seven points each. Cain went 1-for-10 from the floor and Thrall finished 2-of-11 from the field. Woodard would go 2-for-7 from the field for six points.
While CU struggled to shoot, the Jays finished with a season-low seven turnovers.
Stephens led all players with 23 points, making 9-of-20 shots. She also added nine rebounds for the Shockers. Alex Bunton pulled down a game-high 11 boards as the Shockers out-rebounded the Bluejays 48-38 in the game.
With Evansville and Illinois State losing on Thursday night, the Bluejays can still secure the top seed for next week’s MVC Tournament in St. Charles, Mo.
Drake 61, Missouri State 58
SPRINGFIELD, MO. A free throw with 19 seconds remaining by senior Jill Martin (Norwalk, Iowa/Norwalk) proved to be the game-winner as Drake denied a Missouri State shot at the buzzer en route to a 61-58 victory over the Lady Bears on Thursday (March 6).
The win, coupled with Indiana State’s 66-61 triumph over Evansville’s and Southern Illinois’ 72-69 upset of Illinois State, set the stage for the Bulldogs to possibly play for a share of the Missouri Valley Conference regular season crown on Saturday (March 8) at Wichita State. A win by Illinois State over Evansville and a Bulldog victory accomplishes this feat.
Drake improves to 19-9 overall and 12-5 in league play with the triumph, while Missouri State falls to 10-18 on the year, including 8-9 in conference action.
Martin paced the Bulldogs with a game-high 25 points, while senior Lindsay Whorton (Independence, Mo./Truman) and sophomore Monique’ Jones (Lee’s Summit, Mo,.Lee’s Summit North) each added 11 points.
The Lady Bears were led by 21-point performances from Tahnee Balerio and Tiff Terwelp.
Drake finished the affair shooting 47.7 percent from the floor, while the Lady Bears connected on 24.6 percent from the floor.
The Bulldogs conclude their regular season at Wichita State on Saturday (March 8) at 1:00 p.m. The contest represents the 1,000th game in school history.
Southern Illinois 72, Illinois State 69
NORMAL, Ill. - The Southern Illinois (9-18, 5-12) women's basketball team fought back from an eight-point deficit in the second half to take down second place Illinois State (22-6, 12-5) in the final weekend of Missouri Valley Conference play, 72-69, at Redbird Arena Thursday night.
The Salukis were down by eight, 56-48, with 7:52 left in the game before Jayme Sweere and Ellen Young put up back to back threes, followed by two straight jumpers from Katrina Swingler to tie the game at 58-all at the 5:43 mark.
The Redbirds would go up two more times before Southern would tie the game two more times, the last time at 67-67, with 1:17 left to play on an Erin Pauk 3-pointer.
Cortney Sales hit the front end of a 1-and-1 to give the Salukis their first lead of the second half, 68-67, with just under a minute to play.
Illinois State's Kristi Cirone put her team back on top after draining two free throws following a Jasmine Gibson foul with 39 seconds left in the game. A Sweere put back with 25 seconds left gave Southern the advantage one more time, while two Pauk free throws at the 10 second mark put the Salukis up three following a Cirone turnover.
Cirone went on to miss two threes with the Redbirds final possession of the game for the Saluki win.
SIU recorded just one turnover in the second half to ISU's seven. The Salukis also hit seven of 11 3-pointers for a season-high 53.8 percent on the night. They also shot 48.3 (29-of-60) from the field, the best showing in 15 games, snapping a five-game losing streak dating back to February 14.
The Salukis were led by Sweere who put up her second-straight 25-point game. The senior added seven boards, five assists, two steals and a block, while Young came off the bench for 17 points including a perfect 3-of-3 from beyond the arc.
Pauk was the third on the team with 10 points, including five in the last minute and 20 seconds of the game.
Nicolle Lewis led the Redbirds with 28 points, while Cirone pitched in 17, including ISU's final seven points of the game.
The Salukis wrap up the conference regular season at Indiana State Saturday for a 2:05 p.m. EST tip-off.