Candace Sykes scored a career-high 24 points against the Aces. (Photo By B Corbin/WJBC)
By WJBC Staff
EVANSVILLE - Candace Sykes came to life in the second half of the Illinois State women's basketball team's 64-46 win over Evansville Saturday at the Ford Center. Sykes poured in 21 second half points on her way to a career-high 24 points. The senior guard sank five three pointers, tying a career high. Illinois State (17-8, 9-4 MVC) scored 40 second half points, while Evansville (8-15, 6-6 MVC) tallied 18 points after the break.
Janae Smith recorded a double-double, as she scored 11 points and brought down 10 rebounds. Jamie Russell also tallied a double-digit scoring performance, netting 10 points, while Brianna Puni grabbed nine rebounds. Alexis Jenkins dished out six assists, and Smith and Russell each had two blocks. Illinois State connected on 40 percent of its shot attempts, while Evansville made 36 percent of the shots it took. The Redbirds had the edge on the boards, as they pulled down 43 compared to the Purple Aces' 28.
After Illinois State jumped out to a 6-0 lead to start the game, Evansville used a 9-2 run over 2:31 to take a 9-8 lead five minutes into the game. The two teams traded baskets until ISU regrouped on the defensive end and went on a 6-0 run to take a 22-20 lead with 5:44 remaining in the half. During the run, Smith had four-straight points, while the Purple Aces were scoreless for nearly six minutes. After the 6-0 run, the Redbirds didn't score a field goal for the remainder of the half. Evansville scored four-straight points, heading into the locker room with a 28-24 advantage.
At the half, Smith led the Redbirds with nine points in the opening half, while Puni had four rebounds. Illinois State had a slight advantage on the boards with 17 compared to Evansville's 15. The Purple Aces shot 46 percent from the field in the opening half, while the Redbirds made 33 percent of its shot attempts.
From the end of the first half to the 15:53 mark of the second, the Redbirds didn't make a field goal, going nine-plus minutes without a basket. Illinois State found its groove and went on a 9-0 run to take a 35-32 advantage with 13:29 to play. During the run, Jenkins scored four-straight points, while Sykes connected on a shot beyond the arc and Russell sank a jumper in the lane.
The momentum stayed with the Redbirds, as they went on a 13-4 run to take a 10-point lead, 48-38. In the run, Sykes had eight points, and ISU made three-straight three pointers. Sykes had two treys and Katy Winge connected from the corner with 8:13 remaining in the game. ISU used another 8-0 run to take a 56-40 lead with 5:13 to play. Sykes had four points in the run. The Purple Aces went scoreless for over eight minutes and tried to get some momentum, scoring four-straight points, but ran out of time, as the Redbirds came back to grab the victory. It marked the fifth time this season that ISU has held an opponent to 50 points or less.
Illinois State will take on Indiana State in its third-straight road game, Feb. 24, at 1:05 p.m. (CST).