Jamie Russell led Illinois State in the blowout win. (Photo By B Corbin/WJBC)
By WJBC Staff
NORMAL - Four Redbirds scored in double-figures as Illinois State (14-8, 6-4 MVC) opened its two-game home stand with an 81-57 victory over Drake (7-14, 2-8 MVC) on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena Friday night.
The victory marked the fourth time this season Illinois State has scored at least 80 points in a game and 12 different Redbirds saw minutes.
Jamie Russell led the Redbirds with 16 points, joining Janae Smith (15 points), Maddie Oliver (13 points) and Brianna Puni (15 points) in double figures as Illinois State shot 59-percent from the floor as a team. The Redbirds outscored Drake 48-22 in the paint and tallied 23 assists on 35 baskets. Puni tied a career-high with nine rebounds and ISU forced 23 turnovers in the victory. Ashley Bartow paced Drake with a game-high 17 points and the Bulldogs shot 38-percent from the floor as a team.
Oliver, who came into the contest averaging five points-per-game, scored six of the first eight points of the night for Illinois State. Both teams battled to a 10-10 tie at the under-16 media timeout before Russell's three-point basket sparked a 9-2 ISU run that built the Redbirds lead to 20-12 with 11:29 to go in the opening half. Candace Sykes responded with back-to-back baskets as Illinois State went on a 12-2 run to lead 32-16 with 8:21 to go.
Alexis Jenkins' layup with 3:45 to play in the opening half snapped a 6-0 Drake run that included a four minute stretch without an Illinois State basket and put the Redbirds in front 34-24. Drake cut the deficit to eight points before Russell's spinning layup put Illinois State in front 38-28 with one minute to play. Puni added a layup and Illinois State made a late defensive stop to go into halftime leading 40-28. The Redbirds shot 58-percent from the floor in the opening half and collected nine steals, leading to 16 points-off-turnovers.
Oliver opened the second half scoring for Illinois State, netting the first five points of the half for the Redbirds on a layup and a three-point foul play. Katy Winge and Smith added baskets as Illinois State opened the half on a 13-0 run, building its lead to 53-28 with 14:30 to play in regulation. Drake did not score its first basket of the half until Stephanie Running's jumper at the 14:20 mark.
Drake cut the deficit to 60-44 before Illinois State went on a 15-0 run to make it 75-44 with 3:40 to go. Russell, Puni, Winge, Nelson and Smith all scored as Illinois State held Drake without a basket for 5:23, before Alexis Eckles' made free throw.
The victory improved Illinois State to 34-33 all-time versus Drake, including a 20-12 mark in Normal.
The Redbirds will continue Missouri Valley Conference play versus Creighton on Sunday, Feb. 10, with a 2:05 p.m. tip against the Bluejays in the Play4Kay game. Listen to the game on WJBC AM 1230 and FM 93.7.