Redbird freshman Alexis Foley scored eight points in the loss to Michigan. (Photo By B Corbin/WJBC)
By WJBC Staff
NORMAL - In a game highlighted by numerous runs, it was the Michigan Wolverines who were able to pull away last, knocking off Illinois State, 56-45, Wednesday evening at Redbird Arena.
The Redbirds held their biggest lead of the game with 17:10 remaining, at 29-25. However, the Wolverines responded with nine-straight points over the next four minutes to regain the advantage at 34-29. Candace Sykes stopped the bleeding with a straight-on three to pull ISU back within two, but that is the closest the Redbirds would get the rest of the way. The Wolverines went on another 9-0 run, as Kate Thompson’s three at the 8:56 mark gave Michigan its biggest lead of the night, at 45-34.
After a Katy Winge three to make it 49-42 Michigan with 6:15 left, neither team scored for more than a four-minute span. However, the Wolverines’ Jenny Ryan put home a driving layup with 2:07 left to break the drought. An Alexis Jenkins three pointer accounted for ISU’s only points over the last 6:15 of the contest.
The Redbirds utilized stifling defense to jump out to an early 9-5 lead through the game’s first seven minutes. The Wolverines responded with 14-straight points during a 16-2 run that put them ahead 21-11 with 7:41 remaining in the first half. The Redbirds bounced back with a run of their own, however, scoring eight-straight points as part of a 10-2 spurt that brought them back within two, at 23-21 heading into halftime.
ISU forced 11 turnovers in the first half, including on the Wolverines’ first five possessions, scoring 13 points off of them. Janae Smith scored six points and grabbed four rebounds to pace the Redbirds in the opening stanza, while Jamie Russell added five.
ISU continued its strong play to begin the second half, opening it on an 8-2 run. Alexis Foley found Maddie Oliver for a wide open layup to even the game, before nailing a three from the right side of the arc to put the Redbirds back on top, 26-23. After a Michigan bucket, Chloe Nelson hit her second three of the game to put ISU up 29-25, equaling their biggest lead of the night. However, the Redbird offense would falter from there, resulting in defeat.
Smith led the Redbirds with 11 points and seven rebounds. Nelson tied her season-high with six points, with Oliver and Winge also tallying six in the loss.
The Redbirds will return to Doug Collins Court Friday, Dec. 7, against another Big Ten foe, the Northwestern Wildcats.
Tip-off for game three of ISU’s five-game home stand is set for 7:05 p.m. with coverage on WJBC AM 1230 and FM 93.7.