ISU women advance to WNIT quarterfinals

By WEEK Producer

March 24, 2011 Updated Mar 24, 2011 at 10:30 PM CDT

NORMAL, Ill. – Emily Hanley tied a career-high with 24 points, 18 of which came in the second half, as the Illinois State women’s basketball team defeated Duquesne, 79-66, Thursday night on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena.

The victory extends ISU’s home record this season to 16-0, and extends its all-time WNIT home record to 9-1.

For the third-straight season, Illinois State advances to the WNIT Quarterfinal Round. The Redbirds will host Arkansas Sunday at 1:05 p.m. in Redbird Arena. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for youth. Fans can buy tickets in person or over the phone (3094/438-8000) at the Redbird Arena Ticket Office or online at ISU students receive free admission.

Shala Jackson poured in 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting, and Hannah Spanich contributed 14 points, highlighted by a 7-for-8 mark from the free-throw line.

ISU jumped out to an early 11-5 lead at the 14:15 mark of the first half, spurred by six points from ­­­­­­Spanich. A layup at the 12:32 mark from Candace Sykes gave the Redbirds their then-largest lead of the game at 15-7.

The ‘Birds extended their lead to 10 at 19-9 after a layup from Jackson at the 10:05 mark, but Duquesne answered back with a quick 6-0 burst to cut the Redbird lead to four at 19-15.

Duquesne regained the lead at 25-24 at the 3:39 mark after a fade-away jumper from Wumi Agunbiade, part of a 10-4 run by the Dukes. Duquesne extended its lead to five at 33-28 with less than a minute left in the first half after a layup from Samantha Pollino. Katie Broadway answered with her only three-point field goal of the half to cut the Duquense lead to 33-31, as both teams headed into the locker room at halftime.

Jackson led the Redbird scoring attack in the first half with nine points on 4-of-8 shooting. Agunbiade and Pollino paced the Dukes with nine points a piece. The Redbirds committed eight turnovers in the first half, while Duquesne turned the ball over six times.

The ‘Birds opened up the second half with a quick 12-4 run to take a 43-37 lead at the 15:29 mark of the second half, led by five points from Jackson. Duquesne responded with a quick 5-0 run to cut the ISU lead to 43-42, capped by a three-point field goal from Kelly Britcher with 14:19 remaining.

ISU did not let up, as Alexis Jenkins sparked the ‘Birds to a 10-0 run with a three pointer, giving ISU a 53-42 lead at the 11:16 mark. Hanley caught fire for the ‘Birds, scoring the last seven points of the 10-0 run on three-straight possessions.

The ‘Birds maintained a 15-point lead with 3:54 remaining. ISU forced Duquesne into committing nine turnovers through the first 16 minutes of the second half. Duquesne was never able to cut the deficit under 13 for the remainder of the game, as the Redbirds cruised to the 79-66 victory.

Courtesy Illinois State University Sports Information