Courtesy ISU Sports Information:
On the day she was named a candidate for one of the most prestigious awards in women’s college basketball, Kristi Cirone lived up to the billing with a double-double to lead Illinois State (16-4, 7-1 MVC) over Bradley (13-6, 4-4 MVC), 74-58, at Illinois Central College’s Ramsey Gymnasium.
Cirone recorded her fourth-career double-double with 25 points and a career-high 12 assists. It was her 11th 20-point game of the season and her ninth in the last 12 games. Cirone was 3-for-4 from three-point range and moved into a tie with Jenny Schmidt for the ISU all-time lead with 205 career triples.
Cirone’s 12 assists tied her career high, which she has achieved once in each of the last two seasons. It was the seventh double-digit assist game of her career and she became just the third player in Valley history to amass more than 600 assists in her career, ending the game with 609.
Shala Jackson also logged a double-double with 15 points and a season-high 11 rebounds, her third of the season. Ashleen Bracey added 16 points, four rebounds and three assists.
The Redbirds extended their winning streak to five games and ended the month of January with a 7-1 mark.
Illinois State made its first three three-pointers, which helped build an eight-point lead, 25-17, midway through the first half. Bradley failed to convert a three-point play that would have cut the deficit down to four points and ISU responded with an 11-0 run to take its biggest lead of the half, 39-23. Cirone had a transition layup and a three-pointer on consecutive possessions and Kenyatta Shelton made a long jumper with a hand in her face as the shot clock expired.
Bradley went more than six minutes without a field goal, but closed out the half with three buckets in the final two minutes. Emily Hanley answered with two scores of her own and ISU held a 43-29 halftime lead.
Two quick buckets to start the second half put the Redbirds ahead by 18 points and a tough layup underneath by Cirone gave ISU a 20-point cushion, 60-40, with 10 minutes left.
A long pass to Jackson for a fastbreak layup was Cirone’s 10th assist of the game, securing her first double-double in over two years.