Redbirds Pull Away From Panthers In Second Half
Nov. 29, 2012
NORMAL, Ill. - Jamie Russell and Candace Sykes each had a double-double to lead Illinois State University past the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee women's basketball team, 75-54, Thursday evening at Redbird Arena.
The Panthers (3-3) led early but went cold from the field in falling behind by 12 at intermission. The Redbirds (4-2) slowly pulled away in the second half, using a decisive 10-0 scoring run after Milwaukee had pulled back within nine points with eight minutes to play.
"This was a great lesson for us," UWM head coach Kyle Rechlicz said. "It was an opportunity for us to come to someone's court and see what it's like to play at that level. Hopefully, we will move forward from here and learn how to compete like they did."
Junior Emily Decorah led the Panthers in scoring with 11 points. Senior Sami Tucker added 10 points and eight rebounds and junior Angela Rodriguez scored nine. Sophomore Janna Swopshire finished with eight points off the bench in just 13 minutes of action.
"Janna has taken steps every game and tonight she really proved she was ready to compete at a very high level and she was focused," Rechlicz said. "For us to have a post player step up in the paint showed that we do have another angle of attack and I think she can build on this and move forward and be a major impact player for us."
In addition to Russell's 17 points and 13 boards and Sykes' 16 and 11, Janae Smith led the way with a game-high 18 points. Illinois State outrebounded UWM by a count of 53-to-30 and also limited it to 32.8 percent (19-of-58) shooting from the floor on the night.
"I want to commend Illinois State - they have an unbelievable team," Rechlicz said. "It's very senior-laden, with a lot of great players. And not only do they have a lot of great players, but they play extremely hard."
After falling down by as many as 17 midway through the second period, the Panthers clawed their way back into it. Rodriguez's jumper with 8:07 to go trimmed the deficit to 11 at 59-48 and gave the team some momentum. But just as quickly, it was gone, as the Redbirds would score 10 unanswered points to build the lead back to 21 and that was it.
Cold shooting from the floor and foul trouble combined to hurt UWM, as it started the second half by missing its first seven shots.
The Panthers jumped out to a 7-4 lead right off the bat, with Tucker scoring five of the first seven points for her squad. Her jumper at the 16:47 mark gave UWM that lead, but the Redbirds would score nine points in a row as part of an 11-2 run that gave them the 15-9 advantage just three minutes later.
Milwaukee went cold from the floor the rest of the half, including a near-eight minute stretch that saw them hit just one of 10 shots from the floor and trail by as many as 16 at the four-minute mark before trimming that to 12 at intermission.
The team remains on the road and heads to Michigan next, taking on Michigan State Saturday in a game scheduled for a 3 p.m. CST tipoff.