Janae Smith leads the ISU women in scoring and rebounding. (Photo by B Corbin/WJBC)
By Bryan Bloodworth
Illinois State women’s basketball coach Stephanie Glance can sum up last week’s 71-66 Missouri Valley Conference victory at Drake with one word.
“The ability for our team to bounce back against Drake was huge,” said Glance, whose team had suffered a disheartening 64-45 league loss at Creighton two days earlier. “And to win a game on somebody else’s home court after being down was huge.”
ISU went on a 19-6 run in the final eight minutes to notch its fifth win in the last six games and move its conference mark to 3-1. The Redbirds are 11-5 overall.
“We had to really lock-down on defense and be able to execute on the offensive end,” added Glance, whose team returns to action Thursday with a 7:05 p.m. Valley game against Evansville (4-10, 2-1).
It’s the first of three straight home games and gives the Redbirds an opportunity to strengthen its bid for a regular-season championship. ISU plays host to Southern Illinois at 4:05 p.m. Saturday and Indiana State on Jan. 25 at 7:05 p.m.
“We have a chance to do some really good things,” said senior point guard Alexis Jenkins. “We have some good games coming up and we’re looking to do our best and hope for the best.”
Glance obviously couldn’t be happier with the Redbirds' 3-1 start in league play.
“The only disappointment thus far, of course, has been at Creighton,” said Glance. “Not just because we lost the game, but because of the way we played the game.”
Glance added that defense is still an emphasis for the Redbirds.
“That’s probably has the most room for growth – not so much team defense, but individual defense,” Glance continued. “Some players might not have the best foot speed or are the quickest laterally, so we have to learn to defend by position.
“We have to position our bodies and work angles. We hope to see a lot of improvement in that area by the second round of conference play.”
The Redbirds are led in scoring by Janae Smith (16.1), Candace Sykes (14.0) and Jamie Russell (12.7). Smith also has a team-high 9.4 rebound average.
Sykes is 10th on the school’s all-time list with 100 baskets from 3-point range.
Bryan Bloodworth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org