Illinois State Stuns Missouri State Lady Bears 66-57 At JQH Arena
Missouri State senior guard Desiree Phillips (3) guards Illinois State's Chloe Nelson (4) during first half action Sunday at JQH Arena. Image by KTTS News
The Illinois State Redbirds overcame a five point halftime deficit and beat the Missouri State Lady Bears 66-57 Sunday afternoon at JQH Arena.
The loss is the fourth straight for MSU, who came into the day in a three way battle for fourth place in the Missouri Valley Conference with Drake and Illinois State.
The game didn't get off to the start 3,429 fans were hoping for, as Illinois State grabbed a 9-0 lead three minutes into the contest.
But the Lady Bears used a 10-0 run to grab a 16-14 lead when Tyonna Snow hit a shot with 7:28 left in the half.
Missouri State extended its advantage to five points, 27-22 at halftime.
But it didn't take long for the Redbirds to grab the momentum in the second half, taking the lead for good, 31-30, when Lindsay Smith hit two free throws with 15:08 left in regulation.
Smith went 10-10 at the line and Illinois State set JQH Arena records by an opponent for most free throws made (28) and free throws attempted (39).
Illinois State used a 12-1 run to take a 36-30 lead on Octavia Crump's shot with 12:54 to go before Mikala McGhee drained a three pointer 21 seconds later to pull the Lady Bears within three, 36-33.
But MSU couldn't pull any closer than four points the rest of the way, as the Redbirds had the lead up to 13 with 4:31 remaining.
McGhee hit a layup with 1:44 left to make it a six point game, 58-52, but ISU went 8-8 from the free throw line in the final minute to seal the win.
Tyonna Snow had 26 points in a losing effort for the Lady Bears, who drop to 12-14 overall, 7-8 in the Valley.
"It definitely isn't fun losing, definitely not for your seniors in their last game," Snow said. "It's unfortunate, but there's nothing really we can do about it but move on. It's not our last game of the season so we have to keep playing."
Wilkerson, who played her last game in front of the home crowd, says it's disappointing. "We needed these wins at home. We've just got to learn to win on the road because come tournament time, we need to pick up some wins."
Wilkerson says defensively, her team struggled. "We let them get in the paint and score some easy buckets."
Chloe Nelson and Lindsay Smith had 15 points each to pace Illinois State, who improves its conference mark to 7-7. The Redbirds are 8-16 overall.
"It's not the way we wanted to end our season here in JQH Arena. It's not the way you want to end senior night," Lady Bears Coach Kellie Harper said in her postgame press conference. "I'm really disappointed in our defense in the second half. We gave up 44 points. 57 points is not a lot of points to score for the game, so obviously right now, we have to be even better at the other end."
Harper says the difference in the game was fouls. The Lady Bears committed 24 of them, 15 in the second half. "We fouled way too much and put them on the free throw line. They made them in the second half."
Harper's players say they made mistakes on defense, and it translated into errors on the offensive end. "I've noticed it all year," Harper said. "When we're playing well and scoring, you have more energy on the defensive end. It's not an isolated thing. Great defensive teams don't need to make a basket to be a great defensive team."
So what's next, as a losing season hangs in the balance if they Lady Bears don't sweep their remaining three games? Harper says while there is still a lot to be decided in the conference standings, her team has a different outlook. "We really changed our focus in the last week, that we're really just going to focus in on us, and we're really not going to look at the standings now. We want this to be about us getting better every day."
Missouri State hits the road for the final three games of the regular season as the Lady Bears play at Southern Illinois Thursday night at 6:05.
Illinois State went 25-30 from the free throw line in the second half, which would have broken the JQH Arena record for opponent free throws made even without the first half stats. The previous record was 24, set by both Oral Roberts and Bradley in the 2010-11 season.
The Lady Bears close out the home portion of this season's schedule with a 9-5 record at JQH Arena, the same home record as the 2012-13 season.
Missouri State honored seniors Hannah Wilkerson, Bry Snow, Desiree Phillips, Karly Buer and their families in a pregame ceremony.